Who makes the decisions today – beleaguered writers, publishers buying up book windows, readers with chips in their heads (writers with chips on their shoulders), booksellers going broke, online bloggers pushing in, reviewers popping up everywhere – who has the power, what really matters in writing – style or story or celebrity? Is the scene different to the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s? Was there really a golden period of modernism when writers became more than mere entertainers? Can it really be true that people find Grisham’s work the best in American writing? Do Americans believe they will learn the law, real or fictional, from Grisham? I confess I have only read two of his books – the second The Chamber I read in Italian before I had learned Italian well. But i got everything because beyond the blindingly obvious there was nothing to get. In America today you have writers like Stewart O’Nan, acres larger than clodhopping Grisham, and yet the book buyers ignore the craft, talent, brilliance and buy the second rate stuff. People of London went to Shakespeare’s plays – anyone out there to help me out here on all this?
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I don’t know if I can help you out here, or if anyone really can. I look at the New York Times bestseller lists and think: “Are they the best we have?” Popular doesn’t always mean good. Personally, for lawyer fiction, I like Lisa Scottoline, who for my money is above Grisham any day. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.