The tumor in my father's pancreas was removed last week in an operation that lasted five hours and was more difficult than his surgeons had expected. Afterward, they delivered the grim news that most people in his condition could not expect to live for more than ninety days. Since I knew nothing of the surgery, or the tumor, I was not there when he was given his death sentence. Communication is not a priority with my father. Ten years ago he divorced one wife and had found another before word filtered down to me.
His current wife—she's either number five or number six-eventually called and, after reintroducing herself, passed along the barest of details about the tumor and its related issues. Agnes explained that my father was not feeling well and didn't want to talk. I replied that he had never wanted to talk, regardless of how he felt. She asked me to spread the news to the rest of the family. I almost asked "Why?" but didn’t want to bicker with this poor woman.
The rest of the family consists of my younger sister, Jill, and my mother. Jill lives in Seattle and, as far as I know, has not spoken to our father in at least ten years. She has two small children who have never met him, and never will. My mother, after surviving twelve years of marriage, got lucky and got out, taking Jill and me with her, and I have a hunch that the news of his impending death will have zero impact on her.
Needless to say, we do not get together at Christmas and exchange gifts by the fire.
After the phone call from Agnes, I sit at my desk and ponder life without Warren, my father. I started calling him Warren when I was in college because he was more of a person, a stranger, than a father. He did not object. He has never cared what I call him, and I have always assumed he prefers that I don’t call him at all. At least I make the occasional effort; he never has.
After a few minutes, I admit the truth-life without Warren will be the same as life with him.
I call Jill and break the news. Her first question is whether I plan to attend the funeral, which is somewhat premature. She wants to know if she should try to visit him, to say hello and good-bye and go through the phony motions of acting as though she cares, when in fact she does not. Nor do I, and we both admit this. We have no love for Warren because he never cared for us. He abandoned the family when we were kids and has spent the past thirty years acting as though we do not exist. Jill and I are both parents now, and we find it inconceivable that a father can have no use for his own children.
"I’m not going," she finally declares. "Now, or later. How about you?"
"I don’t know," I reply. "I’ll have to think about it."
CALICO JOE by John Grisham.
Copyright © 2012 by Belfry Holdings, Inc.
Published by arrangement with Doubleday, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
A surprising and moving novel of fathers and sons, forgiveness and redemption, set in the world of Major League Baseball….
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….
In John Grisham’s new novel the baseball is thrilling, but it’s what happens off the field that makes Calico Joe a classic.
Hardcover Book : 208 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Broadway Pub. ( April 10, 2012 )
Item #: 13-549433
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.47inches
Product Weight: 9.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I have always enjoyed John Grisham's courtroom novels and this one is quite different but equally enjoyable to read. As a baseball fan with sons and grandson involved deeply with the game, I was interested in reading about the inner workings the of the major leagues. I especially enjoyed the character development, Even though I somewhat predicted the ending, a few things happened that surprised me and touched me to the point of tears. I read the book slowly because it is quite short and I wanted it to last.
I loved this book. I am a baseball fan and could feel Grisham's love for the game, also. My only wish was that the story lasted a little longer. I was sad to leave the world of the Joe Castle and Paul Tracy a little bit too soon. With the length of this book, it should be described as a novella and not a true novel, but the read was more than worth it.
Grisham is trading on his own fame to push this slight, disappointing novel. Trite, stereotypical characters. (The newspaper editor looks like Mark Twain and smokes a pipe? The homecoming queen marries the star athlete? Give me a break.) Unless you're a rabid baseball fan who loves the history of the game no matter how altered, this book is a waste of time and money.
Reviewer: Bettie H
This is not one of John Grishams better books. Jumping around from past to present and back again is not a good read.
Grisham is great no matter what he writes. His character development makes the difference between an ordinary story and a great read. I enjoyed it.