John Grisham: "Pure entertainment"

Thursday, February 7, 2008
Author John Grisham is photographed at Random House offices in New York in a February 3, 2004 file photo. Grisham has a new novel "The Appeal" coming out soon. (AP Photo/Jim Cooper, File)

NEW YORK -- Some things John Grisham knows: He got 15 rejections before his first book, "A Time to Kill," was published. He made $9 million last year. He's not James Joyce or William Faulkner. He's an entertainer.

"I'm not sure where that line goes between literature and popular fiction," the mega-selling author said. "I can assure you I don't take myself serious enough to think I'm writing literary fiction and stuff that's going to be remembered in 50 years. I'm not going to be here in 50 years; I don't care if I'm remembered or not. It's pure entertainment."

Grisham is happy to write what he hopes is "a high-quality popular fiction." But that matters not to fans, who gobble every word.

Sometimes he wraps a serious issue around a plot -- the death penalty in "The Chamber," insurance reform in "The Rainmaker," homelessness in "The Street Lawyer." Now the self-styled political junkie and former Mississippi state legislator has written a book that's more political intrigue than legal thriller.

"The Appeal" (his 21st book) tells the story of a huge chemical company that loses a $41 million lawsuit for causing cancer deaths and then tries to buy an election for the state Supreme Court -- where the appeal will be heard.

"I guess every year now is a political year. ... And it just felt like it was time to write this story," Grisham's said.

"The Appeal" is already at the top of some best-seller lists.

Reviews of "The Appeal" have been generally positive, though some can be reduced to previous assessments of Grisham: fine storyteller but not a particularly good writer.

"When I start getting good reviews, I worry about sales," jokes Grisham, who said he's learned to ignore reviews.

"It's a better day if I don't read any reviews," he said. "It's the only form of entertainment where you're reviewed by other writers. You don't see rock stars reviewing each other's albums and you don't see directors reviewing each other's movies."

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