Reality In The Works Of John Grisham

John Grisham incorporates many reality-based ideas into his novels. He uses experiences from his own life as plots in his novels. Many of his novels are from actual experiences portrayed in life today. Grisham uses his knowledge and experiences as a courtroom lawyer to create realistic novels that capture his readers' attention. John Grisham combines his knowledge as a lawyer and his talent as a writer to become one of the best selling authors of the decade.

John Grisham was born on February 8, 1955, in Jonesboro, Arkansas. His mother was a homemaker, and his father a construction worker. As a child, Grisham wanted to play either professional baseball or professional baseball. He gave up the football dream early, but the baseball dream lasted through college. After a few years of trying his baseball career out, he realized baseball was not for him. He then shifted his gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University (http://www.random He then attended law school at the University of Mississippi. He graduated in 1981, the

same year in which he married Renee Jones, who then became Renee Grisham.

John Grisham then began to practice law in Southaven, Mississippi for nearly a decade. He specialized in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983 he was elected to the Mississippi Sate House of Representatives. He served in the House of Representatives until 1990.

While at Mississippi State University, he attempted to write two books, neither of which he finished. In 1984 he began to write a third book. He used his experience at Dessoto County Courthouse ( to write this book. The testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim inspired Grisham to write a novel. After three years of grueling work on A Time to Kill his first book was completed. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wychwood Press, who gave it modest five thousand copy printing and published in 1988 (

The success, although only slight, spiked Grisham's new writing hobby. As he began his next book, that hobby turned into a full time career. Grisham has gone on to be recognized as one of the worlds's best selling novelists ( The Firm stayed for 47 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. The Firm became the best selling novel of 1991 ( features/grisham.html). Several other of his novels began to reach number one on the New York Times Best Seller List. In fact, currently, there are over 60 million John Grisham Books printed all over the world.

John Grisham, with wife Renee of 16 years, has 2 children, Ty and Shelia. Ty and Shelia are 13 and 11, respectively. The family currently lives in two locations, a Victorian home in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia.

After gaining his success as a writer, in 1996, Grisham returned to the courtroom, the starting point of his success. He was committed to a case dealing with a railroad brakeman killed. He had

made the commitment before he became a full-time writer. He successfully won the case, and awarded his client with the biggest verdict of his career.

Though the works of John Grisham are grounded in reality, they are not a part of the realism movement. Realism is a term applied to literary composition that aims at an interpretation of the actualities of any aspect of life; free from subjective prejudice, idealism, or romantic color (Hart 698). Realists try to point to objective reality. A realist in neither optimistic nor pessimistic. The works of a realist are a reflection of a writer's motive. The works of John Grisham are hypothetically realistic. Grisham's novels are fiction but could easily be nonfiction. His plots are hypothetical, but with its realistic ideas, there is no need for it to be hypothetical. Realism and reality are two different styles of writing. Most contemporary authors, like Grisham, use realistic ideas rather than realism because realism does not come naturally.

Grisham uses experiences from his own life to write many of his novels. Many of his novels use realistic portrayals of courtroom

encounters. Grisham uses his experience as a lawyer to create his novels. Many of his novels use realistic portrayals of courtroom encounters. Grisham uses his experience as a lawyer to create his novels. A Time To Kill was inspired by the harrowing testimony of a twelve year old rape victim he had witnessed (http://www.random about.html). Grisham was curious with this case. He said "I never felt such emotion and human drama in my life. I became obsessed wondering what it would be like if the girls' father had killed the rapist and was put on trial. I had to write it down." (Current Biography Yrbk 222). For the next three years Grisham spent his free time, in between work and family, on this book. In 1988, A Time to Kill was published. Although his scenario never happened in actuality, the situation could have happened. The realistic nature of this book is remarkable.

John Grisham's The Firm, was his best selling novel. In fact it was described as the best selling novel of 1991 (http://www. Grisham used his knowledge as an attorney to write and realistic novel about a law

student affiliated with a law firm that turned out to good to be true. After a series of mysterious murders were committed within the firm, with no apparent trace; and millions of Mafia money filtering throughout the firm, the young lawyer was faced with important decisions. Many of the ideas and plots in The Firm are so reality based many readers believe they are part of the plot themselves. Gabriel Brandstrom depicts The Firm as being able to "capture the reader" ( nv96gabr/B 96gabr/b-fir.htm). Grisham grounds his books in reality to captivate a reader's attention.

Grisham uses his characters to portray his reality theme. All of his characters are hypothetical, but also could easily be living beings. In fact, Grisham himself even resembles his characters. Grisham has the blue-eyed, brown-haired, fashionably unshaven good looks that one imagines a typical Grisham hero might possess (Current Biography Yrbk 224). He makes his characters so realistic, that when one reads his novels, one may actually believe they are part of the plot.

His characters along with his plots are definely part of a realistic style of writing. His uses realistic ideas, rather than the realism movement. Realistic thoughts come naturally while the idea of realism does not. The fact that realistic ideas come without deep thought or studies show that Grisham's books comply with the average reader. The average reader is looking for something that they could understand and possible have the same experience. Grisham uses the concept of reality to entrance his readers.

Final Outline

I. John Grisham

A. The life of John Grisham

1. Early Life

2. Life as a lawyer

3. Life as a writer

B. The works of John Grisham

1. A Time to Kill

2. The Firm

II. The Idea of Reality in Literature

A. Why reality is important to a reader

B. Realistic verses Realism

C. Reality in contemporary literature

III. Reality in the works of John Grisham

A. How actually reality was the inspiration of A Time To Kill

B. How the life of John Grisham inspired The Firm

Works Cited

"About John Grisham." Online. Available

Brandstorm, Gabriel. "John Grisham on the Net-The Firm." Online. Available nv96gabr/b-fir.htm

"Grisham, John". Current Biography Yearbook. Volume 1993, 1993

Grisham, John. Newsweek 9 February 1998: 14.

Hart, James. The Oxford Companion to American Literature. New York: Oxford Unviersity Press, 1965.

Jones Jr., Malcolm. "Best Sellers: NO Escaping Grisham's Law". Newsweek 8 May 1995: 66.

"The Mississippi Writers Page- John Grisham". Online. Aviailable

Related Essays on Literature