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John Grisham: The Broker

Sofia

New Member
and actually managed to stay awake?? What happened to him?? He used to be one of my fave authors, but lately I have to force myself to finish his books. This current one reads like a guide book for Italy. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
 

David Frame

New Member
Yeah, I agree he's gone off the boil a bit - didn't he write something about baseball or something recently??? 'King of Torts' was pretty good though - not back to his 'A Time to Kill' or 'Pelican Brief' days but pretty old school Grisham all the same.

I think The Broker must have been the result of a family holiday in Italy and he came back a little excited. Had some lingo lessons also by the looks of it!!
 

RobertFKennedy

New Member
Someone gave me it as a gift because "they know i like books" but I just couldnt get into it.

I did used to enjoy his books, especially The Partner but he has become a bit hit and miss and i doubt I'll read him again.
 

Sofia

New Member
Yeah, I agree he's gone off the boil a bit - didn't he write something about baseball or something recently??? 'King of Torts' was pretty good though - not back to his 'A Time to Kill' or 'Pelican Brief' days but pretty old school Grisham all the same.
omg, you are so right! I loved 'a time to kill' and 'the pelican brief'; and 'the chamber' was great too. But jeez, doesn't he reread his own work? Could he of possibly thought 'The Broker' would be considered a bestseller?? (oh wait, was it? ) lol.

Someone gave me it as a gift because "they know i like books" but I just couldnt get into it.
Sorry to hear that! It's like getting the dreaded fruitcake at christmas! :D
 

David Frame

New Member
Sofia

I can't remember the name of the book (the one before the King of Torts) - it might have been The Testament - but it was about a guy who came back to his hometown to take over a newspaper. I quite enjoyed that but it didnt have the pace of his early stuff.
 

Stewart

Active Member
The Testament, the first and last John Grisham I would ever read, was the farce that had some lady (maybe called Rachel) going into the jungle and then living to the end aided only by the author's blundering use of deus ex machina.
 

David Frame

New Member
Just checked his site - it was The Last Juror about the newspaper - that was quite good.

Stewart - the testament was poor
 

David Frame

New Member
But don't be put off (famous last words) as his early stuff really is his best. The Pelican Brief, A Time to Kill, The Firm and The Runaway Jury are all good.
 

Stewart

Active Member
To be honest, though, thriller writing isn't, in my opinion, worth anything and I get frustrated reading it because you can see how bad these people are with words.

Now, here's an extract from The Pelican Brief:

HE SEEMED INCAPABLE of creating such chaos, but much of what he saw below could be blamed on him. And that was fine. He was ninety-one, paralyzed, strapped in a wheelchair and hooked to oxygen. His second stroke seven years ago had almost finished him off, but Abraham Rosenberg was still alive and even with tubes in his nose his legal stick was bigger than the other eight. He was the only legend remaining on the Court, and the fact that he was still breathing irritated most of the mob below.

He sat in a small wheelchair in an office on the main floor of the Supreme Court Building. His feet touched the edge of the window, and he strained forward as the noise increased. He hated cops, but the sight of them standing in thick, neat lines was somewhat comforting. They stood straight and held ground as the mob of at least fifty thousand screamed for blood.

"Biggest crowd ever!" Rosenberg yelled at the window. He was almost deaf. Jason Kline, his senior law clerk, stood behind him. It was the first Monday in October, the opening day of the new term, and this had become a traditional celebration of the First Amendment. A glorious celebration. Rosenberg was thrilled. To him, freedom of speech meant freedom to riot.

In the first two paragraphs Grisham has saw fit to to tell us twice that the old codger is in a wheelchair. We are simply told that he had a stroke seven years ago, something we don't need to know but which is more annoying because we are told it - it's not character development. He was this....he did that...he hated cops... - all that just breaks the main mantra behind the art of writing: show, don't tell!

Next up, someone is yelling at a window. Why would he yell at a window? Surely he should be yelling at the guy behind the window. To him this...he was that...

I'm sorry but I just can't find it captivating and I don't think I could ever, again, give a writer, who cares more about the money than the craft, a chance.
 

Stewart

Active Member
I've never read them, to be fair, although I'm not averse to trying something once to find out for myself. What are they crime, thriller, or some sub-genre of either?

Oh, oh, oh, and I don't like Dan Brown or James Patterson either. :D
 

David Frame

New Member
Jeffrey Deaver's main stuff is his Lincoln Rhyme detective/thriller series. The first one is the 'Bone Collector' but 'The Vanished Man' is far and away the best of the lot - an excellent book and an absolute for me.

Harlan Coben has a series of thrillers based on a sports agent called Myron Bolitar (better than it sounds and a testament to his skill that he can make a sports agent engrossing) which are also crime/thrillers.

I can highly recommend both writers, but I'd avoid the location scout series from Deaver because they are absolute tripe!!!
 

Stewart

Active Member
Okay, I've just read an excerpt from the prologue of Harlan Coben's The Insider of which I shall quote a segment:

You never meant to kill him.

Your name is Matt Hunter. You are twenty years old. You grew up in an upper-middle-class suburb in northern New Jersey, not far from Manhattan. You live on the poorer side of town, but it's a pretty wealthy town. Your parents work hard and love you unconditionally. You are a middle child. You have an older brother whom you worship, and a younger sister whom you tolerate.

Like every kid in your town, you grow up worrying about your future and what college you will get into. You work hard enough and get good, if not spectacular, grades. Your average is an A minus. You don't make the top ten percent but you're close. You have decent extracurricular activities, including a stint as treasurer of the school. You are a letterman for both the football and basketball team--good enough to play Division III but not for a financial scholarship. You are a bit of a wiseass and naturally charming. In terms of popularity, you hover right below the top echelon. When you take your SATs, your high scores surprise your guidance counselor.

You shoot for the Ivy Leagues, but they are just a little out of your reach. Harvard and Yale reject you outright. Penn and Columbia waitlist you. You end up going to Bowdoin, a small elite college in Brunswick, Maine. You love it there. The class sizes are small. You make friends. You don't have a steady girlfriend, but you probably don't want one anyway. In your sophomore year, you start on the varsity football team as a defensive back. You play JV basketball right off the bat, and now that the senior point guard has graduated, you have a serious chance of getting valuable minutes.

I don't like this, I'll be honest. It's too matter of fact and its not creating a great character. Consider:

Your name is Matt Hunter. You are twenty years old. You grew up in an upper-middle-class suburb in northern New Jersey, not far from Manhattan. You live on the poorer side of town, but it's a pretty wealthy town.

Again, like Grisham, Coben is telling us who we are and not telling us.

I would prefer it to be more subtle. Rather than spit out who we are is there no way of indicating? Rather than say we are from New Jersey, can't we be wearing a Devils jacket? Rather than say "near Manhatten" can't he mention the Statue of Liberty with her back to him? etc.

I would much rather read, again, Iain Banks' use of the second person in Complicity; at least I got some then. ;)
 

David Frame

New Member
His Myron Bolitar books are better. I actually read the book you quoted from a few months back, and although it's not bad, it is the only time he's written deliberately in this instructive style.

I sense that you prefer to have the picture painted rather than instructed???
 

Stewart

Active Member
David Frame said:
I sense that you prefer to have the picture painted rather than instructed???

Well, that's reading. :)

If you tell me everything in the text then what use is my imagination? What use is my brain if I can't deduce anything for myself? On the other side I notice that thriller writers tend to describe the action process by process whereas the wordsmiths condense it to a single action so he filled the watering can, he went to the flowerbed, he watered the flowers simply becomes he watered the flowers.
 

David Frame

New Member
I agree entirely, but sometimes the plot calls for the author to get to the point. Everything isn't about moving the plot forward, occassionally it's about subconsiously giving the reader a bit more history or a bit more detail that makes them feel they know the character deeper by knowing some of the irrelevances (if such a word exists).

I agree, again, that some authors can be direct and avoid clever immersion techniques. However, if you only take a snippet of a book like you have with Coben or Grisham, it is easy to criticise the structure when the snippet isn't in context to anything either before or after.

Sure, I could say that I live 55 degrees north in a place as cold space, where the football's poor and the pubs are rich, but sometimes it's better to say I live in Newcastle so that I can move onto a more relevant part of my tale.
 

Stewart

Active Member
David Frame said:
I agree entirely, but sometimes the plot calls for the author to get to the point. Everything isn't about moving the plot forward, occassionally it's about subconsiously giving the reader a bit more history or a bit more detail that makes them feel they know the character deeper by knowing some of the irrelevances (if such a word exists).

I think it's more what the authors tell you. They tell you things about the character's past that you don't really need to know. It's as if they believe it is characterisation.

John Grisham said:
He was ninety-one, paralyzed, strapped in a wheelchair and hooked to oxygen. His second stroke seven years ago had almost finished him off, but Abraham Rosenberg was still alive and even with tubes in his nose his legal stick was bigger than the other eight.

Ninety-one? Is that really important?

This morning I finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day and even though the character's age is never mentioned my imagination/intuition allows me to deduce that the narrator is in - or approaching - his sixties.

I understand that 91 year old isn't a major character but it's nice not to be spoonfed rubbish.
 

David Frame

New Member
Yes, but the ninety one year old in the plot has to be killed off before he sits in judgement on a major case. The people who want him dead can't rest on the assumption that he'll die before he hears the case. Basically, what Grisham is showing us is that the old man had his second stroke seven years ago - the guy is a survivor and a fighter. The section that you showed in your last post is actually relevant - he's 91, at deaths door, but has survived two strokes already. The killers have no choice but to murder him because history says he tends to live. The fact that he can't live is the basis of the whole plot.

It's what I meant by being critical of a snippet of a book without the context of before or after.

We can never know what is relevant and what is not until we each the last page. Sometimes subtle and direct is as complex as deep and thought provoking. Isn't that the joy of reading to a degree?
 
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