Calico Joe, John Grisham’s novel about a rookie baseball player whose career is cut short, is currently enjoying its fourth week on the New York Times bestseller list. I also predict it will soon get another boost for Father’s Day. As Martin Brady writes in his BookPage review of the novel:
“Beneath all the baseball lore and Grisham’s obvious affection for the game, Calico Joe offers a sad but real tale about fathers and sons and the difficulties family members can experience when attempting to re-establish severed bonds.”
I recently gave a copy of the book to my mom, and she responded with a bit of local news. I am from Little Rock, and the main character in Grisham’s novel is from Calico Rock, Arkansas—a small town that’s home to about 1,000 people. It’s practically up the street from where my dad grew up.
My mom sent me a quote from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, from columnist Linda Caillouet:
“[Calico Joe is] really helping to put our little historic town—which is almost totally dependent on tourism to keep old historic Main Street alive—on the map,” Matthews says of the book. [Matthews is a business owner in Calico Rock.]
In March, the town’s museum (created with the help of a generous donation from Grisham) saw an increase in visitors and April promises to be even better, says Matthews, whose rustic lodge overlooks the White River.
Apparently Grisham’s ancestors were early pioneers of the small town. Who knew?
I love books where I can claim a personal connection to the setting, like The Homecoming of Samuel Lake or The Lions of Little Rock. What book did you enjoy that is set in your home state? Will Calico Joe inspire you to make a pilgrimage to Calico Rock?