Duke Russell

PG hasn’t read a John Grisham novel for at least several years. However, he started a new Grisham book, The Guardians, and immediately came upon a lovely first sentence:

Duke Russell is not guilty of the unspeakable crimes for which he was convicted; nonetheless, he is scheduled to be executed for them in one hour and forty-four minutes.

John Grisham

7 thoughts on “Duke Russell”

  1. I hope it holds up to your expectations. Without giving away spoilers, I have found that his most recent books tend to be reflective of his personal advocacy efforts against the death penalty. While admirable, one of his other recent ones had a chance to really be provocative and give you something to think about, and instead gave you his answer instead. It could have been GREAT, but was mostly ho hum.

    I have to confess though that I find it almost unfathomable he ever got his second book published after the first chapter of his first book somehow made it through. It depicts a very graphic scene of two rednecks raping a young girl, very close to unreadable bordering on fetish porn, to make sure you have no sympathy for the perpetrators for the rest of the book. But I am amazed any publishing company published it.

    aka PolyWogg

    • A Time to Kill was one of Grisham’s better books. If you are making the point that you are simply surprised that tradpub touched the book, fair enough. That, in my view, is an indictment on tradpub and an endorsement of Self Publishing.

      If your point is that the passage you complain of should not have seen the light of day, then I strongly disagree with you. Yes, it makes for uncomfortable reading. But, as you acknowledge, it is in no way gratuitous. It is always up to you whether or not to persist in reading things that make you uncomfortable.

      • Actually, I did not say it wasn’t gratuitous, I said it had a purpose. That’s not the same dividing line. One might go for shock and awe when mere shock might have been enough.

        (caution ** spoilers ahead **)

        For me, it went beyond the pale. On a personal level, based on past work, I’ve seen some pretty atrocious stuff. Rarely if ever did I get a true “ick” feeling like I did reading that chapter. While I noted he did it presumably to make sure no one felt sympathy for the perpetrators, their part in the book is almost irrelevant to the rest of the story. By the time you get through Chapter 3, it’s not about them or what they did. And tbh, the father didn’t know the details anyway. We did as readers, and it was put there to shock us and outrage us, partly from the gratuitous and graphic nature, but it didn’t explain his motivation, it just made it easier as readers to identify with his cause.

        After reading it, I did a bit of further reading on the book and reactions to it. I was surprised in part because there are pedophiles who share that chapter with others of similar predilections because for them it is erotica. A number of prisons stocked the book in their library before realizing that the pedophiles were all signing it out as porn.

        There were also freedom of speech advocates who argued it borders on the obscene and offensive. If you google it, you’ll see that it is a quite common reaction to it, and not from mere snowflakes.

        But you were right that my main point is that I am surprised that TradPub published it, but I in no way think publishing something that is used as pedophile erotica is a virtue of self-publishing.

        Your mileage may vary…


  2. His first book?
    Or the second?

    The first was self published. He didn’t have to convince anybody except the bookstores he sold the book to. And his writing did that.
    He only got a contract after he sold more than enough to prove he didn’t *need* a publisher. Got him a bigger, better deal and likely editorial control.

      • Not so surprising if you think of it.
        He wasn’t a dewy-eyed dreamer when he signed and he had the upper hand. He most assuredly did not get the “industry standard” deal.
        It’s like Patterson, who does pretty much everything but print and ship on his own. At their level, they don’t rely on the publisher; the publisher relies on them. They get their money upfront and move on to the next project. The publisher is a convenience.

  3. Grisham has written some great books, though I have found his later efforts to be disappointing. Largely because, in contrast to many of his earlier books, too often not much actually happens. Slow moving character driven literary novels with not much in the way of a plot are not what I expect from John Grisham.

    With a first sentence like that, I’m going to give this one a go. My views on the death penalty do not accord with Grisham’s, but I don’t expect that will spoil my enjoyment.

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