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Take Grisham out to the ballgame

January 18, 2012 |  9:12 am

Grisham_calicojoeBest-selling author John Grisham will be back on shelves this spring just as players are taking their places around baseball diamonds. On April 10, Grisham will publish "Calico Joe," a novel set in major league baseball in 1973.

On his website, Grisham sets up the premise:

Whatever happened to Calico Joe?

In the summer of 1973 Joe Castle was the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen.  The kid from Calico Rock, Arkansas dazzled Cub fans as he hit home run after home run, politely tipping his hat to the crowd as he shattered all rookie records.

Calico Joe quickly became the idol of every baseball fan in America, including Paul Tracey, the young son of a hard-partying and hard-throwing Mets pitcher. On the day that Warren Tracey finally faced Calico Joe, Paul was in the stands, rooting for his idol but also for his Dad. Then Warren threw a fastball that would change their lives forever…

One of the most buzzed-about novels of 2011 was another baseball book, Chad Harbach's debut novel "The Art of Fielding." Our reviewer Chris Barton wrote that something about baseball has attracted American authors for decades:

In terms of conjuring a shorthand for a certain American innocence, there are few delivery systems quite so direct as baseball. Touched on by a library's worth of authors including John Updike, Stephen King and Don DeLillo, there's something about the game's deliberate pace, individual focus and enduring simplicity that seems irresistible to novelists.

Grisham's "Calico Joe" will be published by Doubleday. Known for legal thrillers including "The Firm" and "The Pelican Brief," he has recently made moves into other territory; in 2009, he published his first short story collection, "Ford County."


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-- Carolyn Kellogg