The Firm, John Grisham's first bestselling novel, took more than the literary world by storm. Even before it hit the printing presses, bootleg copies made the rounds of law firms across the nation. Within six weeks of its first printing, the book had soared to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List. And, with only a one-sentence synopsis to go by, Paramount paid in the six figures for the film rights (Tom Cruise played the lead role in the 1993 film).
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But, as impressive as all that is, it was only the beginning for Mr. Grisham. Within the past few years, he has written several additional novels (including The Pelican Brief; The Client; and The Chamber) and has had his first—and, he says, his favorite—literary effort (A Time to Kill) re-released. He set a new publishing standard when four of his novels reached the top of the best-seller list simultaneously. His latest books, The Partner (1997) and The Street Lawyer (1998), and The Testament (1999), have followed their predecessors to the bestseller list.
Since film version of The Firm was produced, several of his other books have been made into films, including The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time To Kill, and The Chamber. These films featured big name directors, like Sidney Pollack (Tootsie, Out of Africa), and big name stars, like Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones and Denzel Washington.
This skyrocketing success—as well as the monetary proceeds, the network appearances, and the standing-room-only audiences for his speech presentations—could have gone to John Grisham's head. But it hasn't. He leaves the movie-making to the movie-makers and continues to take his greatest joy out of writing and spending time with his family at their home in Virginia.
Mr. Grisham—a 1981 graduate of Ole Miss Law School, a former criminal attorney, and two-term member of the Mississippi House of Representatives—never had a grand plan to become a writer. Indeed, as an undergraduate, Grisham had studied accounting and thought he would become a tax attorney. Until he took a tax course, that is. But as he toiled in the court system, it became clear that he had a lot of stories in him.
Luckily for all of us readers, he wrote them down. And now, utilizing the oratory skills he perfected as a lawyer, John Grisham entertains and inspires listeners as well as readers.
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