Calico Joe

Calico Joe

by John Grisham
ISBN 978-0-385-53607-3
Doubleday, 2012

In Calico Joe John Grisham tells a baseball story that you will have your opening your internet browser to learn more about the characters on which it is based. But the characters are not real—at least not the main characters. Joe Castle, a young phenom tearing up the major leagues in his rookie season, is fictional. Warren Tracey, an aging, desperate and just plain mean Mets pitcher, is fictional. But these fictional characters play their games with real members of the 1973 Chicago Cubs and New York Mets. Tom Seaver, Rusty Staub, Lou Brock and Willy Mays all make appearances.

Paul Tracey, son of the aging, desperate, and just plain mean pitcher, tells the story in two past and present parts: his adult quest to set right a wrong, and his reflections on how it felt to witness that dramatic wrong as an  eleven-year-old. The pre-teen Paul plays Little League baseball, worships his father′s Mets teammates, and idolizes Joe Castle. The adult Paul struggles to set aside disillusionment to pursue some form of resolution.

Calico Joe is about the delicate balance of fortunes in professional sports. It’s about forgiveness, even against long odds, and how forgiveness opens doors to new opportunities. It’s about realizing that when forgiveness isn’t possible, maybe acceptance is enough.

John Grisham knows how to tell a story. What I like best about him is that you don’t feel Grisham himself in his books; he doesn’t try to insert himself or his own agendas. Grisham honours the story and lets it tell itself as it is best told. You want action thrillers with cliff hangers and perfectly timed plot twists? Grisham can do it. You want a gentle baseball story with compelling characters and plenty of room for reflection? He can do that to.

I am an avid baseball fan, so I enjoyed the play-by-play accounts of action on the field. I can’t separate out that part of myself enough to say whether this story would appeal to a general audience or not. I suspect not. An awed regard for the game of baseball would certainly help a person to appreciate this book. If you like to while away an afternoon at the park with a beer and a dog in hand, if you like to relax and let the action unfold as it will, if you like to observe the delicate balance of fortunes and to see which way they fall, then while away an afternoon with this book.

The beer and the dog are optional.

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About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on September 5, 2012, in Books for the beach, Books I bought, Fiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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