Grisham, John: The Pelican Brief
(researched by Lonette Merriman)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Doubleday which is a division of Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. New York, New York March 1992
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
paper & cloth
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
[10], 1-371,[3] 24cm X 15.5 cm 192 leaves with number at bottom center of the page
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
editedóDavid Gernet
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
N/A
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The book is in good physical appearance. It has fairly large type and is easily readable (typography is readable). Each chapter of the book begins with all capital letters of the subject of the sent
ence or a phrase. Finally, the book is well printed. There are no missing pages or unreadable pages.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The book was made with good quality paper. There are no rips or tears of the paper. Some pages have creases and folds from w
ear and tear, but the book is holding up physically over time.
11 Description of binding(s)
paper binding front: [left side for 6í is black and the rest of the front is brown] back:[same as front] spine: [black with gold writing] THE PELICAN BRIEF JOHN GRISHAM (doubleday insignia) DOUBLEDAY
12 Transcription of title page
THE| PELICAN| BRIEF| [solid black line under brief that extends from the center of the B to the center of the F]| JOHN| GRISHAM| [solid black line under Grisham runs from the center of the R to A]| DOUBLEDAY| NEW YORK| LONDON| TORONTO| SYDNEY| AUCKLAND
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
There is a rough draft and typeset copy at the Mississippi State University Special Collections Manuscript Division.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Contents: p[i] text (The Pelican Brief) p[ii] other books by the author p[iii] title page p[iv] copyright p[v] text p[vi] blank p[vii] acknowledgments p[viii] blank p[ix] text (The Pelican Brief) p[x] blank [1-371] text p[xi-xiii] blank
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
The original publisher did issue the book in more than one edition and under varios imprints of the Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
Limited Edition published April 1993 under Doubleday & Company, Inc. It has a 384 page count and a mass market paper binding. This edition is out of stock indefinitely, but sold for a retail price of $200.00.
International Edition pubished August 1992 under Dell Publishing Company, Inc. It has a 384 page count and mass market paper binding. This edition is out of stock indefinitely, but sod for a retail price of $5.50.
Large Type Edition published February under Bantam Doubleday Dell Large Print Group, Inc. It has a 656 page count and a trade cloth binding. This edition is out of stock indefinitely, but sold for a retail price of $25.00.
Large Type Edition published in 1992 under Doubleday. It is a 25 cm bok with a 642 page count.
Brailie Edition published in 1992 under Doubleday. It is a 24 cm book with a 371 page count.
Paperback Edition published in 1992 & 1993 under Island Books: Dell Publishing company, Inc. It is a 18 cm book with a 436 page count
Paperback Edition published in 1993 under Bantam Books. It is a 18 cm book with a 436 page count and has a retail price of $6.99.
Reprint Edition published in February 1993 under Dell Publishing Company, Inc. This book has a 448 page count with mass market paper binding. It is still currently in print and has a retail price of $7.50.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
unknown
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Reader's Digest Condensed Books Edition (Volume 5) which was published by the Reader's Digest Association in 1992 in Pleasantville, N.Y. This is a brailled edition of the book that is 20 cm with a 574 total page count including the o
ther condensed works. It does contain illustrations, some of which have color.
Best sellers from Reader's digest condensed books Edition which was published by the Reader's Digest Association in 1993 in Pleasantville, N.Y. This is a 20 cm book with a 262 total page cunt including the other condensed works. This book does contain
color illustrations.
Large Type Print Edition which was published by Macmillan Library Reference in November of 1992. This book has a trade cloth binding. It is still in print and has a retail price of $70.95.
Reprint Edition which was published by Buccaner Books, Inc. in 1995. This book has a library binding and has a retail price of $27.95.
Limited Edition Uncorrected Proof which was published by Century in 1992 in London. It is a 24 cm book with a 371 page count. Only 500 of these books were produced.
Paperback Edition which was published by Arrow Books in 1993 & 1992. This book has a 371 page count.
Edition was published by Cressent in 1994 in London. This is 726 page book.
6 Last date in print?
Still in print
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
In 1992, The Pelican Brief sold 1,313,437 hardcover copies. In 1993, The Pelican Brief sold 10,232,480 mass market paperbacks.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
In 1993, The Pelican Brief sold 10,232,480 mass market paperbacks which is over 3 million dollars in sales. .
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
John Grisham's Runaway Bestseller! "Firm fans will find THE PELICAN BRIEF even more compelling and suspenseful."--USA Weekend. It takes suspense way past the legal limit. (New York times Book Review, March 15, 1992.)
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
The book is also promoted on audio tape by Books on Tape. (July 13 and July 20 of 1992 in the New Yorker. It is also promoted in the October issue of Harper's Magazine in 1992.)
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
The Pelican Brief, the novel by John Grisham, was made into a movie based on the book with the same title. This movie was made by Warner Brothers and directed by Alan J. Pakula. It starred Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts. The format of the movie
was 15 reels of 15 on 8 (ca. 11250 ft.), sd., col., anamorphic, 35 mm. ref print. It was released in December of 1993. There is currently a VHS videocassette in English and Spanish and 2 videodiscs (141 min.) of the film from Warner Home Video.
The Pelican Brief is also accesible through the computer. The Voyager Company released a high density 3 1/2 in. disk, which comes with an installation leaflet, in 1992. This is an electronic book with full text of the novel.
The Pelican Brief is also on audio tape. There are several versions of audio recordings of the book that include a publication by Bantam Audio Publishing (performed by Anthony Heald), G.K. Audio Books (performed by Michael Shannon), Library of Congress (
performed David Hartley-Margolin), and Books On Tape (performed by Alexander Adams).
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
There are many translations of The Pelican Brief. The following entries list the title, place of publication, and year of publication according to the language that the novel has been translated into. Next, the langauge of translation and significan
t facts about the novel will be listed.
T`ang o an sha ling. Hsiang-kang: Po i ch`u pan chi t`uan yu hsien kung ssu, 1994. This is a Chinese translation of the novel which is 17 cm and in its second volume.
L'affaire Pe(accent on e)lican: roman. Paris: Robert Laffont, 1993. This is a French translation of the novel which is 24 cm and has a 405 age count.
Perikan bunsho. Tokyo: Shinchosha, 1995. This is a Japenese translation of the novel which is 16 cm and is in its second volume. It was oringinaly published in 1993.
Raport pelikana. Warszawa: Amber, 1995. This is a Polish translation of the nove which is 21 cm and has a 350 page count. This is a paperback printing of the novel which is in Wyd. 3.
O dossie(a ^ sits over the e) pelicano. Rio de Janeiro: Editorial ROCCO, 1995. This is a Portugese translation of the novel which was originally published in 1992. It is a 22 cm book with a 384 page count.
Paradih-i pilikan. Tihran: Intisharat-i zaryn, 1994. This is a Persian transltion of the novel which is 22 cm and has a 672 page count.
Die Akte: Roman. Mu(with " over tthe u)chen: W. heyne Verlag, 1996. This is a German translation of the novel which is in paperback in its 11 Aufl. This is a 22 cm book with a 479 page count.
Achter gesloten deuren. Utrecht: A.W. Bruna Uitgevers B.V., 1994. This is a Dutch translation of the novel which is 24 cm witha 313 page count.
Pelikan-rapporten. Oslo: Hjemmets Bokforlag, 1994. This is a Swedish translation of the novel which is 22 cm and has a 368 page count.
Pelikaani-muistio. Porvo: Werner So(a " is over the o)dersto(a " is over the o)m Osakeyhtio(a " is over the o), 1993. This is a Finnish translation of the novel which is 23 cm nd has a 389 page count.
Delo o pelikanakh. Moskva: Novosti, 1993. This is a Russian translation of the novel which is 20 cm and has a 381 page count.
T'i hu tang an: shui sha le ta fa kuan. T'ai-ei shih: T'ai-wan chung hus shu chu(a " is over the u), 1993. This is another Chinese edition of the book. It was a paerback edition that was 18 cm with a 400 page count. Rhis was called the Ch'u pan ed
ition.
Tik saknai. Tel Aviv: Zemorah-Bitan, 1993. This is a Hebrew translation of the novel which is 21 cm and has a 355 page count.
Pellik`on burip`u. soul T`ukpyolsi: Sigongsa, 1992. This is a Korean translation of the novel which is 23 cm and has a 518 page count. This edition is considered the Ch`op`an edition of the novel.
El informe Peli(an accent on the i)cano. Barcelona: Planeta, 1994. This is a Spanish translation of the novel which is 23 cm and has a 353 page count. This is the ninth edition of the novel in Spanish.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
N/A
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
John Grisham's life reads like the typical boy next door makes good story. Although Grisham is currently a wealthy man, he came from simple beginnings. He was born on February 8, 1955 to Wanda and John Grisham
, Sr. in Jonesboro, Arkansas. John was the second child in a family of five. John Grisham Sr. worked as a cotton farmer and itinerant construction worker, which required that he move his family around. The Grisham family lived in several different to
wns in the South until they settled in Southaven, Mississippi in 1967. Wanda Grisham was a homemaker and encouraged her children to read and focus on their education, however John had different dreams for his life. John Grisham dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. He graduated from Southaven High School in 1973 and enrolled in Northwest Junior College to pursue his dream. After a year at Northwest, Grisham moved to Delta State University to improve
his baseball skills. However, Delta State made him realize that he was not meant to play baseball. Therefore he began to focus on his studies and transferred to Mississippi State in 1975 to further his goals. At MSU, Grisham became interested in accoun
ting and began working towards his degree in this area. He graduated from MSU in 1977 with a B.S. in accounting and decided to move on to law school. Grisham entered the University of Mississippi law school in 1978 and graduated in 1981 with a special i
nterest in criminal law and litigation. The same year that he graduated (May 8), Grisham married Renee Jones in Oxford, Mississippi. He established a small legal practice in Southaven and soon got involved in politics. In 1983, Grisham was elected to t
he Mississippi House of Representatives and by his second term was the vice-chairman of the Apportionment and Elections Committee. It was during this time that Grisham began to work on his first novel, A Time To Kill. At the age of 34, John Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill was finally published. Wynwood Press published the book in June of 1989, but only 5,000 copies were issued. However, it was reissued in trade paperback in July of 1991 and sold 250,000 copies
. Before A Time To Kill was even published Grisham began to work on his second novel, The Firm. This book was published by Doubleday in March of 1991 and went through 38 printings in hardback to sell 600,000 copies. Basically, Grisham has delivered a b
ook a year since The Firm. His other novels include The Pelican Brief (1992), The Client (1993), The Chamber (1994), The Rainmaker (1995), The Runaway Jury (1996), The Partner (1997), and The Street Lawyer (1998). All of these books have been bestseller
s that had Grisham's wealth estimated at 30 million by Forbes Magazine (1996). The worldwide gross for his novels, their movies, and other spinoffs is estimated at over 1 billion dollars. However, Grisham did not get this successful this point on his
own. John Grisham has been privileged to have two publishing dynamos shape his career. Jay Garon was Grisham's first literary agent and agreed to represent him after reading an unsolicited copy of A Time To Kill in 1987. The second publishing genius that ha
s been involved in Grisham's life is David Gernet. David plays the role of editor and agent to Grisham. He received the title of agent when Garon died in 1995. Garon left Doubleday to form his own company, Gernet Company, and Grisham became his first
client. The Grisham-Gernet relationship continues to grow as Grisham recently created Belfry Holdings, Inc. to umbrella his writings. Grisham paid tribute to his alma matter and let them house his old paper and writings. The John Grisham papers are held at Mississippi State University in the Special Collection section. These papers consist of the materials generated during his Mississ
ippi State Representative years (1983-1990). Also included are literary files, which store the original manuscript and various revisions of A Time To Kill, along with rough drafts and typeset copies of The Firm, The Pelican Brief, and The Client. There
is a correspondence series consists of personal letters, fan mail, requests for pubic appearances, and other solicitations. Although John Grisham's success gives him the opportunity to be among the rich and famous, he prefers his simple life. He now resides in Albermarle County, VA with his wife and two children, Ty and Shea. Grisham never forgets his simple beginnings and
is always willing to give back to his community and the people that helped him achieve success.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
John Grisham's follow up novel to his first blockbuster, The Firm, was highly awaited event in the literary world. Questions were raised as to whether Mr. Grisham could match the sales of his first novel or if hi
s appeal was simply a passing fancy of the American people. Finally the day came when everyone could find out for themselves whether Grisham new novel would be worth the attention of the American reading public. Several reviews by various magazines and
newspapers from the country followed the publication of The Pelican Brief. The majority of the reviews on The Pelican Brief were mixed. There were favorable and unfavorable reviews of the novel, but most reviewers liked certain aspects of the book while
disliking others. The numerous reviews of The Pelican Brief is a mix of well-known national newspapers and magazines to local newspapers to publications favored by the book industry. The New York Times Book Review, which is well-known for its influence of placing books on
the best sellers list, gives The Pelican Brief a positive review in its March 15, 1992 issue. Frank J. Prial, the reviewer, titles his article "Too Liberal To Live" to allude to the reasons for the murders in the novel. Prial gives the novel a good rev
iew with few reservations, "Rapacious lawyers cannot, alone, a thriller make?at least not for a reviewer who has spent a substantial part of his life covering them in courtrooms. They are too commonplace. No, you have to have a rattling good story, too,
and Mr. Grisham provides. . . . The chase is fast-paced . . . This time around, he also tackles the courts, the Government, the ecology, and the newspaper business among other things. . . . O.K., there are lapses. Even so, Mr. Grisham has written a genu
ine page-turner. He has an ear for dialogue and as a skillful craftsman. Like a composer, he brings all his themes together at the crucial moment for a gripping, and logical, finale. John Grisham probably has a long and successful writing career ahead
. . ." Although Frank Prial gave Grisham's The Pelican Brief a positive review, his fellow reporter, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, did not agree. "Mr. Grisham's novel has some clever fun with both the political thriller as a form and a plot that takes off on event
s of the past two decades in Washington. . . . But though "The Pelican Brief" is diverting, it is rarely disturbing. The story keeps throwing away its opportunities. The main problem is that the characters are about as complex as so many lengths of a l
ead pipe. . . . Nor is "The Pelican Brief" really about anything in particular. . . . All the novel really wants to be exciting and violent . . . Reading "the Pelican Brief," I could have put it down. The Boston Globe printed two mixed reviews of The Pelican Brief : --Some of the chase is reasonably exciting and connoisseurs of political correctness will enjoy "The Pelican Brief" because the villains don't care if they destroy the ecology in their search for billions of dollars in personal gain. Grisham can plot pre
tty well and there is truth in details, but he's not much of a writer. "The Pelican Brief" is technically clumsy and Grisham doesn't play fair with the reader (March 10, 1992). The second reviewer asks why The Pelican Brief lacks certain aspects of a classic, but still grabs the readers attention: --Why do these books do so well, one wonders? Not because they are well written, for they are not, at least where style is concerned. They are plot driven; there is not a contemplative moment in them; they speak to our present suspicion that no instrume
nt of government is to be trusted and that power, even when it is not absolute, corrupts absolutely (May 31,1992). Following on the heels of the Boston Globe, reviewers from the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Time and Newsweek take an interesting perspective concerning Grisham's ability to keep the reader's attention throughout the novel
despite producing a story that isn't different from what he's done before: --Now author John Grisham is back with "The Pelican Brief," and although the plot is different, the story is the same. But it's a better, more interesting book, with a few all-too-brief intimations of pointed political comment and ecological outrage over
the loss of the brown pelican and the Louisiana wetlands that was their home. . . . Darby is the least interesting element in this book, and its downfall is that she's its focus. With all those savvy, outlandish characters running loose?not to mention t
he pelicans?it seems a waste to spend so much time watching Darby change her sunglasses, her hair color, her hotel room in yet another miraculous escape from yet another bad guy. The real surprise of the novel isn't who killed the justices, or Darby's mi
raculous escapes, but that in spite of her, Grisham keeps you turning pages (San Francisco Chronicle, Mar 1, 1992). --What makes this Hollywood fodder is Grisham's ability to mix and match the elements of commercial fiction. The symbiosis is almost irresistible. Tom Clancy can write about political espionage, but Grisham does it with a woman-in-distress overlay. And
what a woman. Darby Shaw is every boy's dream?red-haired and -toed, thanks to a lover with a pedicure fetish, tall (most of its great legs) and, in a nod to the demands of post-feminist America, brilliant, but still accessible. Even the predictable dip
s in the pace (How long is it going to take for guys who can save her to figure this one out?) are fun (Los Angeles Times, Apr 5, 1992). --John Grisham has done it again?for better or worse. . . .Yet the new novel shares with "The Firm" a narrative drive that welcomes readers to suspend disbelief. Grisham knows how to drop hints and red herrings with the best of them, and he writes good d
ialogue, Grisham does cheat a little when he lets virtually every character in the novel know what's in the darned brief before he finally clues in his reader, near the end of the book. Still, he does keep some suspense rolling along and delivers a punch
y, if not exactly surprising conclusion (Chicago Tribune, Feb 23,1992). --after a certain uncritical mass is reached, a best seller best-sellers because it is a best seller . . . It's not a great surprise that The Pelican Brief, Grisham's new novel, is as close to its predecessor as you can get without running The Firm throug
h the office copier . . .(Time, Mar 9,1992). --Thriller writers make a deal with their readers. In return for a willing suspension of disbelief, the author sets off on a merry, roller-coaster plot, dropping hints, feinting at shadows, setting off surprises, all with the promise of a reasonable expl
anation at the end . . . Comes now Grisham's new book, "The Pelican Brief," another of the catch-me-if-you-can genre . . . Grisham keeps the pages turning but, in the end, badly breaches the thrillermeister-reader contract . . . The setup is swell, and th
e chase is daring, but there's no brain food here (Newsweek, March 16, 1992). Other reviews can be found in various magazines and newspapers: Atlanta Journal Constitution?Mar 8, 1992 Times-Picayune?Mar 1, 1992 St. Louis Post Dispatch?Mar 1, 1992 St. Louis Post Dispatch?Apr 30, 1992 Denver Post?Mar 22, 1992 Denver Post?Apr 2, 1992 Detroit News?Mar 4, 1992 Detroit News & Free Press?Feb 23, 1992 Houston Post?Feb 23, 1992 Publisher's Weekly?Jan 20, 1992 USA Today--March 5, 1992
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
John Grisham's follow up novel to his first blockbuster, The Firm, was highly awaited event in the literary world. Questions were raised as to whether Mr. Grisham could match the sales of his first novel or if hi
s appeal was simply a passing fancy of the American people. Finally the day came when everyone could find out for themselves whether Grisham new novel would be worth the attention of the American reading public. Several reviews by various magazines and
newspapers from the country followed the publication of The Pelican Brief. The majority of the reviews on The Pelican Brief were mixed. There were favorable and unfavorable reviews of the novel, but most reviewers liked certain aspects of the book while
disliking others. The numerous reviews of The Pelican Brief is a mix of well-known national newspapers and magazines to local newspapers to publications favored by the book industry. The New York Times Book Review, which is well-known for its influence of placing books on
the best sellers list, gives The Pelican Brief a positive review in its March 15, 1992 issue. Frank J. Prial, the reviewer, titles his article "Too Liberal To Live" to allude to the reasons for the murders in the novel. Prial gives the novel a good rev
iew with few reservations, "Rapacious lawyers cannot, alone, a thriller make?at least not for a reviewer who has spent a substantial part of his life covering them in courtrooms. They are too commonplace. No, you have to have a rattling good story, too,
and Mr. Grisham provides. . . . The chase is fast-paced . . . This time around, he also tackles the courts, the Government, the ecology, and the newspaper business among other things. . . . O.K., there are lapses. Even so, Mr. Grisham has written a genu
ine page-turner. He has an ear for dialogue and as a skillful craftsman. Like a composer, he brings all his themes together at the crucial moment for a gripping, and logical, finale. John Grisham probably has a long and successful writing career ahead
. . ." Although Frank Prial gave Grisham's The Pelican Brief a positive review, his fellow reporter, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, did not agree. "Mr. Grisham's novel has some clever fun with both the political thriller as a form and a plot that takes off on event
s of the past two decades in Washington. . . . But though "The Pelican Brief" is diverting, it is rarely disturbing. The story keeps throwing away its opportunities. The main problem is that the characters are about as complex as so many lengths of a l
ead pipe. . . . Nor is "The Pelican Brief" really about anything in particular. . . . All the novel really wants to be exciting and violent . . . Reading "the Pelican Brief," I could have put it down. The Boston Globe printed two mixed reviews of The Pelican Brief : --Some of the chase is reasonably exciting and connoisseurs of political correctness will enjoy "The Pelican Brief" because the villains don't care if they destroy the ecology in their search for billions of dollars in personal gain. Grisham can plot pre
tty well and there is truth in details, but he's not much of a writer. "The Pelican Brief" is technically clumsy and Grisham doesn't play fair with the reader (March 10, 1992). The second reviewer asks why The Pelican Brief lacks certain aspects of a classic, but still grabs the readers attention: --Why do these books do so well, one wonders? Not because they are well written, for they are not, at least where style is concerned. They are plot driven; there is not a contemplative moment in them; they speak to our present suspicion that no instrume
nt of government is to be trusted and that power, even when it is not absolute, corrupts absolutely (May 31,1992). Following on the heels of the Boston Globe, reviewers from the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Time and Newsweek take an interesting perspective concerning Grisham's ability to keep the reader's attention throughout the novel
despite producing a story that isn't different from what he's done before: --Now author John Grisham is back with "The Pelican Brief," and although the plot is different, the story is the same. But it's a better, more interesting book, with a few all-too-brief intimations of pointed political comment and ecological outrage over
the loss of the brown pelican and the Louisiana wetlands that was their home. . . . Darby is the least interesting element in this book, and its downfall is that she's its focus. With all those savvy, outlandish characters running loose?not to mention t
he pelicans?it seems a waste to spend so much time watching Darby change her sunglasses, her hair color, her hotel room in yet another miraculous escape from yet another bad guy. The real surprise of the novel isn't who killed the justices, or Darby's mi
raculous escapes, but that in spite of her, Grisham keeps you turning pages (San Francisco Chronicle, Mar 1, 1992). --What makes this Hollywood fodder is Grisham's ability to mix and match the elements of commercial fiction. The symbiosis is almost irresistible. Tom Clancy can write about political espionage, but Grisham does it with a woman-in-distress overlay. And
what a woman. Darby Shaw is every boy's dream?red-haired and -toed, thanks to a lover with a pedicure fetish, tall (most of its great legs) and, in a nod to the demands of post-feminist America, brilliant, but still accessible. Even the predictable dip
s in the pace (How long is it going to take for guys who can save her to figure this one out?) are fun (Los Angeles Times, Apr 5, 1992). --John Grisham has done it again?for better or worse. . . .Yet the new novel shares with "The Firm" a narrative drive that welcomes readers to suspend disbelief. Grisham knows how to drop hints and red herrings with the best of them, and he writes good d
ialogue, Grisham does cheat a little when he lets virtually every character in the novel know what's in the darned brief before he finally clues in his reader, near the end of the book. Still, he does keep some suspense rolling along and delivers a punch
y, if not exactly surprising conclusion (Chicago Tribune, Feb 23,1992). --after a certain uncritical mass is reached, a best seller best-sellers because it is a best seller . . . It's not a great surprise that The Pelican Brief, Grisham's new novel, is as close to its predecessor as you can get without running The Firm throug
h the office copier . . .(Time, Mar 9,1992). --Thriller writers make a deal with their readers. In return for a willing suspension of disbelief, the author sets off on a merry, roller-coaster plot, dropping hints, feinting at shadows, setting off surprises, all with the promise of a reasonable expl
anation at the end . . . Comes now Grisham's new book, "The Pelican Brief," another of the catch-me-if-you-can genre . . . Grisham keeps the pages turning but, in the end, badly breaches the thrillermeister-reader contract . . . The setup is swell, and th
e chase is daring, but there's no brain food here (Newsweek, March 16, 1992). Other reviews can be found in various magazines and newspapers: Atlanta Journal Constitution?Mar 8, 1992 Times-Picayune?Mar 1, 1992 St. Louis Post Dispatch?Mar 1, 1992 St. Louis Post Dispatch?Apr 30, 1992 Denver Post?Mar 22, 1992 Denver Post?Apr 2, 1992 Detroit News?Mar 4, 1992 Detroit News & Free Press?Feb 23, 1992 Houston Post?Feb 23, 1992 Publisher's Weekly?Jan 20, 1992 USA Today--March 5, 1992
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
John Grisham is a name and a man that garners an immediate reaction from his colleagues and his fans. According to Publisher's Weekly, one of the publishing industry's premiere publications, "It seems safe to de
clare John Grisham the bestselling novelist of the ?90s. Consider these astounding statistics: "From the time the author's first megaseller, The Firm, hit sores back in March 1991 to when his ninth book, The Street Lawyer, goes on sale in the first week
of February (of 1998), about 357 weeks will have elapsed. During that time, Grisham's hardcover bestsellers have been on PW's weekly fiction charts for 236 weeks and on our paperback charts for 369." Even a mere amateur realizes that it is no small feat
to accomplish these types of sales figure. There may be those that will contest Grisham's ability to create a good story, but few will protest his title as king of bestseller. With figures like the ones that Grisham posts, it is not surprising that eac
h book he publishes is waited for with baited breath. There is a scramble between bookstore owners, film producer, directors, actors, and others for a piece of the revenue to be generated from Grisham's latest project. Although Grisham is a quite and mo
dest man, he does recognize that he has a profound impact on this industry. "You'd have to say that I've had a profound impact on this genre," Grisham comments . . . "I'm aware of, first of all, how it affects my publisher. But you know, if I skipped a
year or two, my publisher's going to survive. I'll tell you what I think about: When I'm in one of those real small bookstores, some of the stores I've gone to for years to sign books, going back to A Time to Kill, I confess I've had the thought, ?What
if I skipped a year?' It would have a significant impact on the store." It is admirable that Grisham recognizes that his impact on the publishing industry may be slight, but the greater impression is left on the smaller businesses and the individuals tha
t have always supported him. It is the type of attitude where the little guy triumph and good gives evil a good kick in the pants that make Jon Grisham's books so appealing. Although John Grisham has recently published his ninth novel, it is important to examine those works that came earlier in his career. These novels help to create the image that is the current man. An important novel in John Grisham's career was the thi
rd novel, The Pelican Brief. Although this may seem like a strange choice, its success has important implications and ramifications for Grisham's career. The Pelican Brief was published in March of 1992 by Doubleday Publishing company. This novel came
directly after Grisham's second novel, The Firm, had just spent 46 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. It may be difficult to conceptualize, but this almost the entire year on the best-seller list when most titles tend to come and go. This min
d boggling success meant that there was a frenzy building over the publication of his third novel. The Firm essentially set the stage for the success of The Pelican Brief. There were those that were anticipating another great novel by Grisham, those th
at wanted to see if he cold match the success of The Firm, and there were those that wanted to experience John Grisham for the first time. The extended run of The Firm on the New York Times best-seller list set up a win-win situation for Grisham. There
was no doubt in anyone's mind that The Pelican Brief would be a success, the major question was simply "How much?" People did not know if this novel could out do its predecessor, but there was hope that it would. After The Pelican Brief was published, i
t managed to become the book with the longest time on the Publisher's Weekly charts with a total of 48 weeks. The Pelican Brief was expected to be successful after Grishams last offering, but it is hardly reasonable to anticipate that type of success. T
his is not to say that Grisham and Doubleday were not happy with the results. Not only did this book further confirm Grisham's ability to keep his readers entertained and coming back for more, but it continued to substantiate his growing status as king o
f the best-seller. It is important to recognize that the success of The Pelican Brief can not simply be attributed to the sales of The Firm. This is a significant part of the initial sales, but the book must have some quality that causes the initial readers to recommend i
t to their friends and reviewers to endorse the book for their readers. John Grisham is able to capitalize on the age that Americans currently live in. It is no secret that all of his books involve lawyers but most of all they involve the little guy ou
tlasting the diabolical techniques of whatever big industry is involved in the conflict. The simplest explanation of Grisham's appeal was given by Jeffery Toobin of the Chicago Tribune when he stated, "Grisham's law is, the more powerful the figure, the
more sinister." It is no secret that this country was built on the principle of working hard and working one's way to the top. Therefore, it is not surprising that Grisham's ability to focus his novels on the hard working individuals getting his/her rew
ard give his novels a universal appeal. As John Skow stated in review for Time, "It's not a great surprise that The Pelican Brief, Grisham's new novel, is as close to its predecessor as you can get without running The Firm through the office copier. As
before, a handsome young couple are pursued by thugs. In the background are members of a corrupt law firm who sleazily shuffle paper, rack up grossly inflatable billable hours, and conspire in the bumping off of a couple of liberal Supreme Court Justices
." Grisham has found a formula that works and he sticks to it. He may change the characters, profession, or setting, but Grisham maintains the same elements that make The Firm the highest mass market in-print at 13,075,000 copies. There is nothing wron
g with Grisham's approach to his writing and his fans do not seem to have a problem with it since they continue to purchase his books at alarming rates. There is a comforting nature to John Grisham's books that people appreciate. There may be twists and
turns throughout the novel, but in the end the conclusion satisfies the reader. Grisham knows how to create a story that enable reviewers to utter statements like, "John Grisham has done it again . . .the new novel shares with "The Firm" a narrative dri
ve that welcomes readers to suspend disbelief. Grisham knows how to drop hints and red herrings with the best of them, and he writes good dialogue. Grisham does cheat a little when he lets virtually every character in the novel know what's in the darned
brief before he finally clues in his reader, near the end of the book. Still, he does keep some suspense rolling along and delivers a punchy, if not exactly surprising conclusion." The fans know that they will be entertained and that in the end they wil
l feel a little better about the world they live in. John Grisham may not be the greatest writer of his time, but he has the ability to create good characters. Grisham creates the two main characters in The Pelican Brief that appeal to both his male and female audience. By captivating both sexes of the p
opulation, Grisham is able to keep his audience interested. The female lead of this novel, Darby Shaw, is described as the all-American girl with a twist. She is as sharp as a whip, but her intelligence does not offend men because she manages to exude a
certain type of sexuality that keeps men interested in her. The sexually titillating nature of some of Grisham's descriptions does not leave a question as to why a male audience would be interested in the character of Darby Shaw, "The door opened quick
ly and an attractive young female in tight washed jeans and a cotton sweater slid elegantly through it and sort of glided along the wall to the third row, where she deftly maneuvered between the crowded seats until she came to hers and sat down. The guys
on the fourth row watched in admiration. The guys on the fifth row strained for a peek. For two brutal years now, one of the few pleasures of law school had been to watch as she graced the halls and rooms with her long legs and baggy sweaters. There w
as a fabulous body in there somewhere, they could tell . . . What they wouldn't give for a black leather miniskirt" (The Pelican Brief, 12). There is no question that the average male will want to find out more about this girl and what makes her tick. A
nd based on this desire to learn more, Grisham hooks the reader. The female audience should not feel left out because Grisham does provide for their curiosity. Although the description of Gray Grantham is not as in-depth as that of Darby Shaw, Grisham d
oes play on the appeal of bad boy to a feminine audience. Grisham introduces Gray as "s serious, ethical reporter with just a touch a sleaze, and when he needed a dirty trick, he called. He liked Grantham because he was honest about sleaziness. The re
st were so pious" (The Pelican Brief, 129). So John Grisham establishes Grantham as a reporter that is willing to do what it takes to get to the truth. There is a rebel with a cause aspect to his personality since he is one of the few reporter that is h
onest about his willingness to use underhanded tricks to get to the truth. This appeals to a female audience because he is a bad boy, but he is fighting for the good of the people. Therefore, the reasoning is that the people he hurts need to be stooped
and are the ones causing the primary hurt to society. Since, these people can not play fair, then Gray should not be expected to play fair either. The diversity of Grisham's main characters give The Pelican Brief a cross cultural and cross gender allure
. A reporter in his review of the Pelican Brief pinpointed the exact reason why there was a tremendous rush to obtain the movie right to The Pelican Brief, "Some books are born to movie deals, others have movie deals thrust upon them. This one bears the b
ox-office chromosome . . . What makes this Hollywood fodder is Grisham's ability to mix and match the elements of commercial fiction. The symbiosis is almost irresistible." With these words, this reporter characterized the power that John Grisham posses
in literary world and in Hollywood. It is the universality of Grisham's appeal that allows his novel to address one of the most taboo subjects in society without tremendous criticism from the viewing public or reading public. In the movie adaptation of
The Pelican Brief (1994), Darby Shaw, the principal female character in the Pelican Brief, is white, while her counterpart Gray Grantham is an African American male. Darby Shaw is portrayed by Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington plays Gray Grantham. It
is surprising and explosive that Grisham choose to pair these two individuals in a romantic relationship on the big screen. Now Grisham does not write love scenes like Danielle Steele and one is not included in the movie, but the implication is still ve
ry prevalent. Although in the novel there is a sexual relationship between the two characters, this does not occur in the movie. This may be the ?90s, but that type of relationship is still a controversial topic in society. But no one that has read the
book is screaming bloody murder. This does not men that all of Grisham's readers are open minded, but it has more to do with the fact that the two individuals involved in this struggle are a part of a situation where a greater evil is involved. The mov
ie characterization of Grantham as a black man does not betray their perception of the personality of the character. Darby and Gray must fight for their survival and in the case of the movie, color is not the pertinent issue. As Frank Prial of the New Y
ork Times Book Review said, "Mr. Grisham has written a genuine page-turner. He has an ear for dialogue and as a skillful craftsman. Like a composer, he brings all his themes together at the crucial moment for a gripping and logical finale." The story t
hat Grisham resents is so enrapturing to the reader that the issue of color is forgotten when it is portrayed on screen. The viewer lends support to Darby and Gray because fight for something they both believe in and put their lives on the line in the pr
ocess. Although John Grisham never preaches about the ill of prejudice in society today, he does make a statement in his choice of color for his characters in the movie. He could have chosen to have made all of the main characters Caucasian, but he did
not. He choose to have an African-American as a central character in a major Hollywood production based on a mass market publication. His writing ability allows the audience to accept the character wholeheartedly and cheer for his triumph in the end. J
ohn Grisham is not often praised for his inventiveness, but he does present a unique perspective in The Pelican Brief the movie that is not usually examined in Hollywood: a black male that is successful, courageous, and righteous. The movie was a success
, but it did receive criticism for not pursuing the relationship between Darby and Gray on the screen. The movie did not put The Pelican Brief back on top of The New York Times Best Seller List, but it did add to it total for the number of books in print.
In the end, it must be said that The Pelican Brief was well received by the public upon its publication. Grisham's previous success with The Firm helped The Pelican Brief to attain its initial number one status, but it was the novel itself that sustaine
d its lengthy stay on The New York Times best seller list. John Grisham ability to manipulate the thriller formula is displayed in The Pelican Brief. Grisham has the ability to capture the reader's attention and kept it until the end of the novel. Few
authors can boast of the power that Grisham holds over the best seller list and the literary world. His books may all be written in the same image, but the universality of the characters and the evil that they battle keep the American public enthralled a
nd begging for more.
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