December 30, 2009 Edition

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100 and counting!

John Bland
Publisher

Thank you, dear readers, advertisers and supporters for allowing us to complete our 100th year of publication with this 52nd edition of The Times Dispatch in 2009. We wish everyone a heartfelt "Happy New Year" and our best wishes for a healthy, happy and blessed 2010. We look forward to serving you in 2010 and for many years ahead.

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"Ford County Stories," John Grisham's latest book is a collection of approximately seven short stories. Published in early November, I received a copy of the book as a Christmas gift.

I was well into my third or fourth short story, and enjoying each, when I realized that the facts and characters in the book are really quite depressing. This caused some reflection on how such sad and depressing stories can be so enjoyable.

The setting for the book is Clanton in Ford County, Miss., the same setting as Grisham's first book, "A Time To Kill." Although Clanton and Ford County are fictitious, places such as Clanton do exist and are much like the place or places where John Grisham grew up.

Clanton is a place that is easy to relate to for those of us who grew up in small-town Arkansas. Grisham gives readers a completely honest look at the characters in his stories. His characters and their flaws are also easy to connect with, whether we see them as others whom we know or because we see ourselves in them. Because the characters are so real, it is also easy to find humor in them, despite the sad, hard realities of their lives.

Grisham said he compiled the short stories from notes and outlines that ranged from 20 years old to those that were made just a few months prior to the publication of the book. He said he enjoyed writing the shorter stories because a mistake in a 40 or 50 page story was much easier to correct than one is a 300- or 400-page manuscript.

I like reading them because one can easily be started and finished in one night of bedtime reading.

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Scott W. Dunlap, a '79 graduate of WRHS who grew up out in Old Walnut Ridge, has e-mailed The TD with the news that he has recently published a book. It is called "The Dung Beetle Manager." He writes that the book "is sort of a seven habits meets a redneck in an outhouse kind of business management-humor book."

Dunlap has a master's degree in applied economics from the University of Central Florida and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Columbia College. He has a 24-year career in civil service that has resulted in many innovations and improvements in Navy training, education and information technology programs. He and his wife, Robin, live in central Florida.

The web site for the book is at: outskirtspress.com/thedungbeetlemanager.

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