Have you ever wondered what famous authors do when they're not writing? Are they real people like us?
Although novelist John Grisham has created some unforgettable characters and places in his best-selling books, perhaps his most memorable is his "Field of Dreams -- Cove Creek Park," the real-life Little League baseball park that he built and maintains amid Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains.
The park was born out of frustration. There was nowhere for his son to play ball. He participates in every aspect of the park. At the end of each season, every boy and girl receives a trophy.
Grisham doesn't write during baseball season. He writes in late summer and throughout the fall to finish a book by Thanksgiving, so when the season starts, it's baseball all the way.
"I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams, so it's easy to give back," he said. "This place is a lot of fun."
And now we have John Grisham, the author.
"A Time to Kill" -- In Clanton, Miss., the life of a 10-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhumane crime, until her black father takes justice into his own outraged hands. In this searing courtroom drama, Grisham probes the savage depths of racial violence. This is a compelling tale of uncertain justice in a small southern town.
"The Firm" -- Mitchell McDeere has worked hard to get where he is third in his class at Harvard Law. Aggressively recruited by all the top law firms, Mitch surprises everyone by joining a very rich, very private tax firm in Memphis. Mitch and his wife, Abbey, move to Tennessee. They are young, happy and on the fast track. Or, so they think. Blending the suspense of Ken Follett with the legal intrigue of Scott Turow, this is one of those rare novels that grabs you on page one and you simply cannot put it down.
"Bleachers" -- High school All-American Neely Crenshaw was probably the best quarterback to play for the legendary Messina Spartans. Fifteen years have gone by and Neely has come home to bury his legendary coach, Eddie Rake. Now, as Coach Rake's boys sit in the bleachers waiting for the dimming field lights to signal his passing, they replay the old games, relive the old glories, and try to decide once and for all whether they love Eddie Rake -- or hate him. For Crenshaw, the stakes are especially high.
"The Runaway Jury" -- In Biloxi, Miss., a landmark tobacco trial begins routinely, then mysteriously swerves off course. The jury is behaving strangely, and at least one juror is convinced he's being watched. Soon, they have to be sequestered. Is the jury somehow being manipulated, or even controlled? If so, by whom? And more importantly, why?
"Skipping Christmas" -- Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That's just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they'll skip the holiday altogether. But as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences and isn't half as easy as they'd imagined. A classic tale for modern times. The book offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that have become part of our holiday tradition.
"The Testament" -- In a plush Virginia office, a rich, angry old man is furiously rewriting his will. With his death just hours away, Troy Phelan wants to send a message to his children, his ex-wives, and his minions, a message that will touch off a vicious legal battle and transform dozens of lives. In a story that mixes legal suspense with a remarkable adventure, their lives are forever altered by the startling secret of "The Testament."
"The Painted House" -- "The hill people and the Mexicans arrive on the same day. The cotton was waist high to my father and over my head, and he and grandfather could be heard before supper whispering words that were seldom heard. "It could be a good crop." Thus begins the story inspired by Grisham's own childhood in rural Arkansas. The narrator is a farm boy named Luke Chandler, age 7, who lives in the cotton fields with his parents and grandparents in a little house that's never been painted. For six weeks, they pick cotton, battling the heat, the rain, the fatigue, and sometimes each other. The book is a moving story of one boy's journey from innocence to experience.
Come visit the Smithsonian exhibit, "Yesterdays Tomorrows," brought to you by the Arizona Humanities Council, June 21 through Aug. 1.
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