Monday, April 16, 2012

Calico Joe

by John Grisham, Doubleday, April 2012

This is a two-three hour read, perfect for an airplane.  

Befitting the start of baseball season we have a baseball novel, Calico Joe.  This is in fact an expanded short story, just over 200 pages, of a father-son relationship.  Paul Tracey, the narrator is the son of Warren Tracey a fictional New York Mets pitcher in 1973.  Paul is 11 years old.  Warren is a mean spirited father, teaching Paul the seamier aspects of the game while drinking and physically abusing his mother.  A rookie phenom, Joe Castle from Calico, Arkansas has energized the league with his record breaking start.  Warren Tracey faces Calico Joe in a game, Joe hits a home run and Tracey’s son knows the next at bat will feature Warren throwing a bean ball at Joe.  Tracey hits Joe in the head, injuring him so badly that his promising career and his health are both ruined.  This act essentially ends Warren’s major league career also.  Warren’s abusive behavior ends his marriage and his relationship with his children.  Thirty years later Paul, now a happily married father of three, attempts to bring together the reclusive Joe Castle and Paul's estranged dying father.   

This story has lots of inside baseball talk that gives it a realistic feel.  Grisham has mixed in real life players with the fictional characters, something baseball fans will enjoy.  You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this story; it really is about the father-son relationship.  Like most of Gresham’s books this is a story but really not literature.  Characters have somewhat murky motivations and are mostly one dimensional.  Nothing challenging, surprising or growth inspiring here.  This is a two-three hour read, perfect for an airplane.   
I read a copy of this novel provided by the publisher


Zibilee said...

I am glad that you mention that you don't have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this novel, because I had been worried about that. I do think I might take a chance on this one after reading your review. It might make for a light read. Thanks for sharing this wonderful and thoughtful review!

cym lowell said...

I must admit, I did not read your review because of the spoiler alert!! I plan on reading this...

Thanks for linking-