Sooley by James R. Coggins

I hate John Grisham. He is a master wordsmith. In his crisp, clear prose, he can describe in two sentences a complex situation that lesser writers would require two paragraphs or two pages to adequately portray. A recent example is Sooley (Doubleday, 2021), a tale of a teenage boy from war-ravaged South Sudan who wins a basketball scholarship to a college in the United States.

Grisham can describe a village massacre with the same detached clarity he uses to describe a basketball game. The reader wants to stand up and scream, “No! Don’t do it! That shouldn’t happen!” But Grisham calmly finishes the description and moves on to describing some ordinary, mundane occurrence.  Grisham once said he writes about lawyers and so he writes about sin. He is a master at writing Shakespearean tragedies. He leads us to become attached to certain characters and forces us to watch their inevitable fall into sin, evil, and tragedy. No one better portrays the seductive temptations of hedonism (money, possessions, entertainment, sex, alcohol, and drugs), sucking in the young, innocent, and vulnerable. I hate John Grisham because he forces me to confront the brokenness of the world. He leads me to grieve and mourn and cry.

About jrcoggins

James R. Coggins is a professional writer and editor based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. He wrote his first novel in high school, but, fortunately for his later reputation as a writer, it was never published. He briefly served as a Christian magazine editor (for just over 20 years). He has written everything from scholarly and encyclopedia articles to jokes in Reader’s Digest (the jokes paid better). His six and a half published books include four John Smyth murder mysteries and one other, stand-alone novel. In his spare time, he operates Mill Lake Books, a small publishing imprint. His website is www.coggins.ca
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