Calico Joe

Calico Joe

by John Grisham


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345536648
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/26/2013
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 65,657
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.66(d)

About the Author

John Grisham is the author of twenty-five novels, including, most recently, The Racketeer; one work of nonfiction; a collection of stories; and a series for young readers. The recipient of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, he is also the chairman of the board of directors of the Mississippi Innocence Project at the University of Mississippi School of Law. He lives in Virginia and Mississippi.


Oxford, Mississippi, and Albemarle County, Virginia

Date of Birth:

February 8, 1955

Place of Birth:

Jonesboro, Arkansas


B.S., Mississippi State, 1977; J.D., University of Mississippi, 1981

Read an Excerpt


The tumor in my father's pancreas was removed last week in an operation that lasted five hours and was more difficult than his surgeons had expected. Afterward, they delivered the grim news that most people in his condition could not expect to live for more than ninety days. Since I knew nothing of the surgery, or the tumor, I was not there when he was given his death sentence. Communication is not a priority with my father. Ten years ago he divorced one wife and had found another before word filtered down to me.

His current wife--she's either number five or number six--eventually called and, after reintroducing herself, passed along the barest of details about the tumor and its related issues. Agnes explained that my father was not feeling well and didn't want to talk. I replied that he had never wanted to talk, regardless of how he felt. She asked me to spread the news to the rest of the family. I almost asked "Why?" but didn't want to bicker with this poor woman.

The rest of the family consists of my younger sister, Jill, and my mother. Jill lives in Seattle and, as far as I know, has not spoken to our father in at least ten years. She has two small children who have never met him, and never will. My mother, after surviving twelve years of marriage, got lucky and got out, taking Jill and me with her, and I have a hunch that the news of his impending death will have zero impact on her.

Needless to say, we do not get together at Christmas and exchange gifts by the fire.

After the phone call from Agnes, I sit at my desk and ponder life without Warren, my father. I started calling him Warren when I was in college because he was more of a person, a stranger, than a father. He did not object. He has never cared what I call him, and I have always assumed he prefers that I don't call him at all. At least I make the occasional effort; he never has.

After a few minutes, I admit the truth--life without Warren will be the same as life with him.

I call Jill and break the news. Her first question is whether I plan to attend the funeral, which is somewhat premature. She wants to know if she should try to visit him, to say hello and good-bye and go through the phony motions of acting as though she cares, when in fact she does not. Nor do I, and we both admit this. We have no love for Warren because he never cared for us. He abandoned the family when we were kids and has spent the past thirty years acting as though we do not exist. Jill and I are both parents now, and we find it inconceivable that a father can have no use for his own children.

"I'm not going," she finally declares. "Now, or later. How about you?"

"I don't know," I reply. "I'll have to think about it."

The truth is that I know I will go see him. He has burned most of the bridges in his life, but there is one rather substantial piece of unfinished business that he has to deal with before he dies.

My mother lives in Tulsa with her second husband. In high school, Warren was the superjock, and she was the homecoming queen, the most popular girl. Their wedding thrilled their small town, but after a couple of years with Warren all thrills were gone. I know they have not spoken to each other in decades, and why should they?

"Mom, I have some bad news," I say into the phone, trying to seem sufficiently somber.

"What is it?" she asks quickly, probably afraid it is one of her grandchildren.

"Warren's sick. Pancreatic cancer, he has less than three months to live."

A pause, relief, then, "I was assuming he was already dead."

And there you have it. His memorial service will not be packed with grieving family members.

"I'm sorry," she says, but she is not. "I guess you'll have to deal with it."

"I suppose."

"I don't want to be bothered with it, Paul, just call me when it's over. Or don't. I don't care what happens to Warren."

"I understand, Mom."

I know he hit her a few times, probably a lot more than I realized. And he drank and chased women and lived the hard life of a professional baseball player. He was arrogant and cocky, and from the age of fifteen he was accustomed to getting whatever he wanted because he, Warren Tracey, could throw a baseball through a brick wall.

We manage to move the conversation to the kids and when she might see them again. Because of her beauty and brains, she landed on her feet after Warren. She married a slightly older man, an executive for a drilling company, and he provided a fine home for Jill and me. He loves my mom, and that's all that matters.

I doubt if Warren ever did.

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Calico Joe 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 318 reviews.
SEC_North More than 1 year ago
With this piece of work he does manage to touch on your inner child, fantasizing of playing with greats as a child, on your favorite team. With this there is that splash of drama, wishing the book jacket is wrong and maybe things don’t turn out the way the inevitably seem to be heading. I love Grisham novels. (As an Ole Miss Alum I love how he always finds a way to put us in there). While this is a rather short piece (142 pages on Nook) it is a nice light read. Spring is here and with the air becoming crisp, this is a perfect lazy Sunday Morning/Afternoon read. Go to the park open the first page and be home in time to start dinner. If you are looking for something short a sweet to pass some time, I would recommend this book. If you want a heart stopping drama you may want to look elsewhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a died in the wool Cubs fan and former resident of a Chicago suburb, this book spoke to me in a way that may not be the same for others. I could see my Dad & I standing in line to buy tickets to games and hear the cheers of the crowd. Yet this book wasn't just about baseball but about people, relationships and some of the unrecognized challenges of life. I loved this book.
SamanthaCarly1 More than 1 year ago
Calico Joe by John Grisham is worth more than $15.00. This is one of the best books I have ever read. It connects family with America’s favorite past time, baseball. It is a story of heartache and pain but also redemption. John Grisham message in the book is to live life to the fullest and to live everyday like it’s your last. Also, Grisham brings out the point to not have any regrets throughout your life. The main character, Paul Tracey, is that typical boy who played little league and wants to become a major league player. Grisham does an exceptional job of connecting baseball with boyhood idols. This story is very relatable to many kids and adults. Reading this I had mixed emotions. Paul’s dad Warren (New York Mets pitcher) is the character you hate in the beginning of the book and have a love-hate feeling by the end. The title of the book, Calico Joe, comes from a character in the book Joe Castle. Joe is from a small town in Arkansas called Calico Rock. In his first game he sets many records. The game where Warren Tracey faces Paul Tracey’s hero Joe Castle is when the story gets really good. The beginning starts out slow but once you hit the game part, I didn’t want to put the book down! I easily could have read the book in three days. The only negative I have about the book is it changes point of view constantly. It starts when Paul is 11 then shifts to Joe Castle’s story and then switches to Joe Castle in his thirty’s. In the beginning it can be confusing but after the first chapter or so, it is easy to follow. I would also not recommend this book to people who don’t enjoy baseball because everything in the story relates back to it. This book connects to kids and adults. I told my grandfather how much I loved it and now he wants to read it because he likes Grisham’s books! This book changed my outlook on life. I felt the heartache and regrets Warren went through. A must read for baseball fans!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Familiarity with top names in 1970's baseball helps considerably in the enjoyment of this story. You don't have to go too deep into the roster, but if you don't know who Rick Monday is you probably won't make it to the 7th inning stretch of this book. If you stick with it to the end you'll be rewarded with a nice, comfortable win. No bottom of the 9th, down by 3, 2-out, full count, bases loaded drama. But an enjoyable Sunday afternoon anyway.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book about baseball & a son's courage to help a failure of a father find pride & redemption for the first time in his pathetic life
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like Grisham novels but i was disappointed at how short this story was. I am a life long Cubs fan and the story nicely captured the enthusiasm and dedication of Cubs fans and revived old memories of Cubs baseball. Memories of a very different baseball era than todays baseball. A very poignant story. At only 142 pages, $12+ is a little steep for the ebook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
John Grisham is so good at telling a gripper of a story. I'm a baseball fan and I knew Tony Kubek from high school. You will think it is a true story ,but so tragic in the circumstances of the lives of the main charactures. Kind of liked to have seen Joe play for real. Short but sweet. If you liked Playing For Pizza you'll love this book too. Thanks Mr. Grisham
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Save your money..... unless you like to read never ending baseball statistics!
TheShort1 More than 1 year ago
Grisham is always good, but I'm not into baseball, so it didn't seem as good as most of his books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story of the past and the present woven with heartache, pain and yes, redemption. Easily read in one sitting. Such an emotional journey, such a fitting ending. I love the game of baseball and have enjoyed reading John Grisham's books for years. Nice to have the two combined!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well-written and has emotion in it for anyone....great story...quick read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Far below his usual "interesting" writing and I am a baseball fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit short. But a wonderful story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good easy read for any fan of baseball, non fans can enjoy it too. Good morale to the story. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story with a powerful message about forgiveness!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although a fan of Grisham, I can't honestly recommend this "novelette" In my opinion Grisham should stick to criminal and courtroom drama! Calico Joe is a slow moving, dreary, flashback riddled, pathos themed account of the short, tragic stardom of a baseball player and a father/son's dysfunctional relationship. It is livened up only with the authors generous use of what read like actual baseball innings and games, (with the exception of the heroics of Calico Joe). Teenagers might enjoy it much more that older readers.
Icecream18JA More than 1 year ago
Eleven year-old PauI Tracey idolizes Joe Castle, the greatest-ever young player out of the Cub’s farm teams. Paul is also the son of Warren Tracey, an on again – off again – alcoholic, abusive, jealous New York pitcher. Paul dreads, yet looks forward to the day when his dad will face Joe Castle in a game; “My father versus my hero.” When Paul, who knows his father’s “old school” rules, sees cues that his dad is going to put Joe in his place, Paul knows what’s going to happen. The horror of that moment lingers with him all his life…until he hears that his estranged father is dying of cancer. That starts Paul on a journey to attempt to bring some peace to the wrong that was done in the summer of 1973. My husband has no fond memories of Little League although he wasn’t bullied about his play after every game by an abusive dad. Reading the story was fun because the Cubs mentioned, Kessinger, Banks, Monday, were the only team I followed in all the years I’ve lived in Chicago. Using the Cubs, with their loyal, always optimistic, always disappointed fans, for this story of sports triumph and tragedy was a perfect choice. Paul’s relationship with his dad is depressing. Joe Castle’s relationship with his family and small town supporters is heart-warming. Grisham somehow brings the two together and makes the resolution feel complete…although not “right” to this reader. The story is entertaining but unsettling; except for Joe Castle and his brothers – the characters didn’t charm me. Three Stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the end was touching, this book was much too short and predictable. I found myself skimming over the extended baseball sequences that dominated the first half of the book. Maybe ok for a free read but not nearly worth the $12.99. :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I guess the author stepped out of his wheelhouse as the novel was trite and poorly written for an easy paycheck, the will probably make it in to a movie that will make millions.
kr0196 More than 1 year ago
This was a great story but 142 pages. Come on John...You can do better than that. Put a little effort into it.
Darlene28 More than 1 year ago
You can never go wrong with John Grisham and this is no exception. You may think that you have no interest in sports or a book about men but this book is more than that. It's family, forgiveness, it's just more and oh so enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not finish this book. So much accounting of play after play I just couldn't stay wth it after about 45 pages. Do not recommend unless you are way into the game ad history of bseball.
PCSTEXAS More than 1 year ago
Quick easy read. Predictable story. A little too short. I'm a life long baseball fan and HS player. I hate the Cubs and Mets but still liked the book. Some life lessons but maybe not a good choice for a non baseball fan.