I loved Grisham's prior forrays into the realm of non-legal. "Painted House" and "Playing for Pizza" were delightful, "no-brainer", "me-and-joe" stories. Not so for Calico Joe. It raises an insidious and troublesome issue for all of us who love national sports-- intentionally inflicted injuries. We try to practice and coach our kids on the lessons of "good sportsmanship". Yet, the "reality" is the exact opposite. Not all sports injuries are "accidental." Witneness the New Orleans Saints' coach suspended for paying out a "bounty" for every oppo player carried off the field. Calico illustrates the same problem in baseball. Some would say "its part of the game," or "if you cant take the hit, you shouldn't be playing". On the other hand, Calico brings out the indellible "side effects". Once thrown, you can't take it back, just like you can't "unring" the bell. Once the damage is done, it remains done, for the inflictor and inflictee alike. The lesson is tragic regardless of the ending--admit or continue to deny; to appologize or not; to forgive, or not to forgive. This story is not an abaration. It happens all the time. I usually don't approve of successful authors using their works as a "soapbox"'. But this one is well written in pure simplicity, and surfaces a major problem in major league sports, deliberately covered up for years.
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