John Grisham Long Fiction Analysis
John Grisham writes legal thrillers, a type of novel that has virtually become a genre of its own in recent years. Grisham credits writer Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent (1987) with beginning the trend, but his own novels have served to define that trend. If, as conventional wisdom holds, Americans do not like lawyers, they have shown that they certainly do like books about lawyers. The reading public has purchased vast numbers of Grisham’s books and those of other writers of fiction dealing with the legal profession.
With The Firm, Grisham began a pattern (some critics call it a formula) that he has used, with variations, in most of his succeeding books. His plots usually center on protagonists who are young and in some way vulnerable, and who are placed in extraordinary circumstances. They find themselves fighting against overwhelming odds in situations in which they should not be able to prevail. Ultimately they may win out over antagonists of apparently superior strength: the U.S. government, the Mafia, giant insurance companies. Grisham cannot be counted on to give his readers a standard happy ending, however.
Early in Grisham’s career, some critics faulted him for shallow character development and for implausible plots; other critics pointed out, however, that popular fiction is virtually defined by such plots. Many observers have noted Grisham’s development as a writer over the course of his career. They have...
(The entire section is 2200 words.)
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