cover image Calico Joe

Calico Joe

John Grisham, read by Erik Singer. Random House Audio, unabridged, four CDs, 4.5 hrs., $30 ISBN 978-0-449-01100-3

In his latest, Grisham takes another break from blockbuster legal suspense to explore the world of athletics. Decades after the fact, Paul Tracey looks back on the fateful events of the summer of 1973 involving his drunken and abusive father, Warren—a pitcher for the New York Mets—and a red-hot Chicago Cubs rookie nicknamed Calico Joe. Narrator Eric Singer portrays both Joe and Warren—the former innocent and earnest, the latter a bully—with energy and passion. The narrator lends Arkansan Joe an accent and cadence that are equal parts aw-sucks nonchalance and deer-in-the headlights wonder. In his portrayal of Warren, Singer effectively channels the character’s vitriol both on and off the field; the scenes involving Warren’s abusive coaching sessions with young Paul pack a particularly powerful emotional punch. Singer’s rendering of the labored speech of an aging Joe in the later portion of the book may seem heavy-handed in some respects, but remains compelling nonetheless. A Doubleday hardcover. (Apr.)