In The Reckoning, a sweeping novel of war, secrets, and desperation, John Grisham takes us on a far-reaching journey, from the Jim Crow South to the jungles of the Philippines during World War II; from an insane asylum filled with secrets to a Clanton, Mississippi courtroom. Pete Banning was Clanton’s favorite son—a decorated WWII hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, neighbor, and faithful member of the Methodist church.
Then, one October morning like any other, he woke early, drove into town, and committed a shocking crime. Uncompelled to reveal his motive, Pete’s only statement—to his lawyers, the jury, and his family—was: “I have nothing to say.” The Reckoning rings with notes of the best Southern Gothic storytelling, complete with Grisham’s signature layers of legal suspense.
Recently, John spoke to Read It Forward about the surprising novels he read as a kid that stayed with him, his ideal book club of fictional characters, and why we should stop hedging our sentences.
Featured image: John Grisham
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What’s the book on your bedside table?
Matterhorn, the novel by Karl Marlantes.
What’s the one book you tell everyone to read?
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.
Name three characters from literature or authors (dead or alive) that you’d want in your ideal book club?
Roy Hobbs from The Natural, Tom Sawyer, and Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces.
What word do you love and why? What word do you hate and why?
Coffee: easy to spell, never mispronounced, means only one thing, and means a lot to a lot of addicts like me. I hate two words: I think. Americans begin every sentence with “I think…,” which means that we immediately hedge every sentence.
What’s the one book you read as a kid that has stuck with you?
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.
What’s the one book that never fails to delight or inspire you?
If you could only read one genre for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Legal thrillers. I just love the genre.
What’s the last book you read on a long flight?
The Children Act by Ian McEwan.