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Original Issue

Gridiron Grisham The best-selling author winningly draws on his quarterback days

by John Grisham
176 pages (Doubleday, $19.95)

For those who think that John Grisham, the master of the legal
thriller, would be more likely to write about a football player's
agent than the athlete himself, think again. Grisham, 48, played
quarterback in high school, and he's a Southerner, so he has
experienced the game and the obsession it can become. In his new
novel, Bleachers, he is writing about what he knows.

Grisham, whose books have sold more than 60 million copies, has
stepped away from legal thrillers twice in the past two years,
with the well-reviewed, semiautobiographical A Painted House and
the less-well-received, satirical Skipping Christmas. In the
somber opening pages of Bleachers he begins to wallow in a
ponderousness that he usually spares his readers, as he sets the
scene of a former star high school quarterback returning to his
hometown because his old coach is dying. But then Grisham tells a
lean and well-paced tale. He isn't trying to win the whole game
here, just put together a good scoring drive. By the book's
conclusion the old quarterback puts points on the board. --B.S.