Just something ‘bout books

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I don’t know about you, but I certainly enjoy a good book. My mom is a reading teacher, so from an early age it was impressed upon me that learning to read and write well was the basis for all other learning. I guess it sank in, because now I’m one of those lucky people that get to make a living by writing.

That being said, I’m not exactly the most creative of people, so novelists who come up with compelling fictional story lines continue to amaze me. I’m also very interested in the law. Just the entire process of our country’s legal system is fascinating to me. Like a lot of journalists, for some reason, if I ever found myself unable to work for a newspaper, I think I’d like to try my hand at law school.

I say all of that to say that Monday, as I was driving through town, I came upon an interesting story that has to do with everything I’ve just mentioned: journalism; the law; writing; and good books.

Without getting too deep into the storyline, I’ll tell you that as I was driving down East Three Notch Monday afternoon, I came across a radio station that was breaking in and out, but it was broadcasting a story being told by what sounded like an older gentleman. The story, from what I could gather, was about a man who had decided to commit suicide, and to address his suicide letter to his lawyer, complete with instructions on how his grown children and ex-wife were to be left out of his will (which apparently included a substantial estate). I immediately had so many questions: Why was he committing suicide? Why was he cutting out his family? I tried to find a parking space at Dairy Queen where the signal was good enough to keep listening. With my goal accomplished, I heard the radio voice mention a familiar name – Brigance. I didn’t pay it any attention at first, but then, with a better radio signal, it became apparent to me that the man wasn’t telling a story, as much as he was reading one. And then I heard the name Harry Rex, and I got really excited.

You see, Jake Brigance and Harry Rex were characters in “A Time To Kill,” the first, and maybe the best, novel by John Grisham, a former lawyer who has made his literary career from writing dramatic novels that center around the law.

As it turns out, he has written a sequel to that book, titled “Sycamore Row.” Apparently, it came out last year, but between my own writing at work, moving to Andalusia and my wife and two children, I somehow missed it.

But, the point is, I was genuinely excited. Way more so than I have been about any movie that has hit box offices in recent memory. There’s just something about a good book, isn’t there?

“A Time to Kill,” really caught my attention as a kid. It was one of those books that took place in the South and addressed issues like race and morality, and whether or not there is ever a wrong time to do the right thing. As you find out in the book, there isn’t.