The Exchange, a Novel by John Grisham

Right after my retirement, I decided to start writing. I just graduated from my life’s second trimester, and started my third. Grisham was always my inspiration. One of a few. Throughout my life I gathered a lot of material, numerous stories, excellent stories. I was familiar with Grisham’s career, and how did it all start for him. I knew what to write, I didn’t know how. But then, I thought, if a lawyer can come up with a book, a surgeon should be able as well.

So I started to learn the craft. And read, and read. I read many of Grisham’s initial books. We even visited the Cayman Islands. Just for fun.

Not even knowing, Grisham was my mentor. I admired the simplicity of his language, interesting, captivating plots, and perpetual fight of good with evil. If you draw the plot line as a sinusoid, the peaks were high and steep, and the lows were deep and nerve wracking.

The Exchange felt different. The language was still simple and smooth, still no sex scenes, but the plot line has flattened. And the conclusion was a dud.

However, what I discovered at the end of the novel was a little troubling. To my dismay, the author seemed infatuated with the lifestyle of the elites, the circles where Mitch McDeere’s successful legal career opened the door to. The huge estate houses, jet-setting company, luxuries of the accommodations, sophisticated dining, travel, enormous amounts of money being transferred from one banking account to the other with just one click of a computer key. This was the journey of a poor boy from rural Arkansas to the aristocracy in Manhattan and the imaginary island in the Northeast, full of high price real estate. It was accentuated by often repeating description of details of priced amenities, as making sure the elitist details will be understood by the masses of his readers. Then I realized the social journey of the author reminded me of one pictured by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby. I was, like was Nick Carraway, watching Jay Gatsby’s ascent from rural North Dakota to the riches of New York, all just to impress a woman. And it didn’t end up well. Gatsby projected his wealth by throwing parties. Grisham does the same by writing opulent books.

It is an interesting book, but not the story I would expect from the master of the contemporary thriller. And the moral and social aspects are characteristic of a social climber to the upper class, being charmed by its status and accepting their ideology.

Still a book worth reading.

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