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Bleachers

A book by John Grisham

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The good, the bad and the ugly ... !

  • Dec 15, 2010
Rating:
+5
If you're looking for a legal thriller, "Bleachers", neither legal nor thriller, is certainly not the drink for which you thirst! In a quiet, pastoral yet moving style of writing which he was to re-use to incredible effect in "The Last Juror", Grisham has treated his audience to a powerful, evocative novella that paints a portrait of the final years of the century in Messina, a small town in deep south USA.

The story opens, develops and closes with Neely Crenshaw, the all-American quarterback who led his 1987 Messina Spartans high school team to an undefeated season, reminiscing about the life of coach Eddie Rake, who drove his players and teams mercilessly to an unrivalled win-loss record. Much of the team joins Crenshaw - Silo Mooney, the bad boy nose tackle who revelled in hurting his opponents; Nat Sawyer, the weak link in the team; Paul Curry, Crenshaw's best friend in high school; Mal Brown, now the town sheriff - as they wait for the symbolic dimming of Rake Field's lights to signal the coach's death, relive their glory days, replay the miraculous championship game of the 1987 season and struggle with their decision as to whether they love or hate the coach's memory and the effect he had on all of their lives.

I'll admit it ... this sounds like the stuff of one spectacularly boring novel and yet, somehow, even when it is read only on the surface as a tale of small town Americana, Grisham has succeeded in telling a warm, moving tale that I found every bit as compelling as the best of his thrillers. But, perhaps even more important, Grisham has provided the fodder for hours of controversial discussion on the best and worst of amateur and professional sports in North America! The worst - the win-at-all-costs attitude; the adulation and elevation of sports heroes and celebrities to an extent far beyond any real conceivable value in this world; the punishing, physical destruction of the bodies of young people as we force them to compete in contact sports up to our unrealistic expectations; and groupies willing to sacrifice their bodies on the altar of unthinking hero worship! And the best - the colour blindness of physical achievement in sport; the translation of the drive and mental discipline of sport into other life endeavours; the camaraderie and the synergy of a team willing to sacrifice individual performance for team success!

And Crenshaw's conversation with the Cameron Lane, the "good girl" he tossed over for Screamer, the leggy, short-skirted blonde floozy who was all too willing to roll over for the team quarterback, was so sticky sweet but, damn, it was good!

What an enjoyable read! And all over in the too short space of only a couple of hours!

Paul Weiss

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More Bleachers reviews
review by . November 26, 2009
Most sports books involve a team that is struggling, there is conflict, both internal and external and then they manage to rise up and win "the big game at the end." Fortunately, and that is one of the most powerful features of this book, that formula is followed, but largely in reverse. There was a big game that the team managed to win, but that was years ago, yet it is still a powerful memory in the participants and the town where the team was from.   Neely Crenshaw was an outstanding …
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Paul Weiss ()
Ranked #16
   A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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Wiki

WithBleachersJohn Grisham departs again from the legal thriller to experiment with a character-driven tale of reunion, broken high school dreams, and missed chances. While the book falls short of the compelling storytelling that has made Grisham a bestselling author, it is nonetheless a diverting novella that succeeds as light fiction.

The story centers on the impending death of the Messina Spartans' football coach Eddie Rake. One of the most victorious coaches in high school football history, Rake is a man both loved and feared by his players and by a town that relishes his 13 state titles. The hero of the novel is Neely Crenshaw, a former Rake All-American whose NFL prospects ended abruptly after a cheap shot to the knees. Neely has returned home for the first time in years to join a nightly vigil for Rake at the Messina stadium. Having wandered through life with little focus since his college days, he struggles to reconcile his conflicted feelings towards his former coach, and he assays to rekindle love in the ex-girlfriend he abandoned long ago. For Messina and for Neely, the homecoming offers the prospect of building a life after Rake.

Physically a narrow book, Bleachers is a modest fiction in many respects. The emotional scope is akin to that of a short story, with a single-minded focus on explorations of nostalgia and regret. The dialogue, especially that of Neely's friend Paul Curry, is sometimes wooden as characters recall Messina history in paragraphs that...

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Details

ISBN-10: 0440242002
ISBN-13: 978-0440242000
Author: John Grisham
Publisher: Dell

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