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Sunday, February 8, 2009

John Grisham: `I've got the easiest life in the world!'

NEW YORK – John Grisham has no desire to ever run for office again.

"I wouldn't take a seat in the U.S. Senate if it was given to me and guaranteed for 20 years with no opposition," says Grisham, who served as a Democratic representative in the Mississippi state House of Representatives from 1983 to 1990.

Getting fired up, he declares, "Look, I've got the easiest life in the world. I don't want to go to Washington and sit through subcommittee hearings on Medicare. How much fun is that? No."

Besides, he's having too much fun writing books. Grisham, who turns 54 on Sunday and has started an official Facebook page to reach out to fans, had an especially good time working on his new legal thriller, "The Associate."

The author, who splits his time between his farmhouse in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, Va., hired a young lawyer to be his research assistant and gather off-the-record stories from associates in New York firms for his book "The Associate". He also read blogs by disgruntled lawyers painting brutal portraits of the workplace.

"This is not cheap factory labor — these are Ivy League kids," he says, "and they're just getting chewed up and treated like (they're) disposable."

Doubleday released "The Associate" last week and ordered up 2.8 million copies of the book, already topping best-seller lists.

The publishing world needs superstars like Grisham, J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Myer to write popular fiction that sells books, says Grisham's longtime agent, David Gernert.

Grisham, who generally ignores critics' reviews, loves getting feedback from fans.

"He certainly enjoys going out and meeting or hearing from his readers — and I think, in a slightly perverse way, he even enjoys getting the letters from readers who say, `I found a mistake on page 127,'" Gernert says of the celebrity author. "There's kind of a connection between John and his readers."

Paramount Pictures has already purchased the movie rights and cast 22-year-old Shia LaBeouf in the leading role.

"It's good for the career, good for the book business — very excited about it," says Grisham, whose books have been turned into movies starring Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Matt Damon and Samuel L. Jackson.

Another deal that excites him: Hillary Clinton's new gig as Secretary of State. Grisham and his wife were big supporters of Clinton during the past presidential campaign and were disappointed when she lost the Democratic primary to Barack Obama.

If Clinton were in the White House, Grisham joked they'd "still be at the Inauguration."

As for President Obama, Grisham says, "He's very smart, he's shrewd. He has good people around him. And he wants to be a great leader and a great president. And I think he's up to it."
Grisham thinks Obama's hope-soaked honeymoon will last a long time. But the political junkie wonders why anyone would want to be president.

Grisham, who has sold 235 million books worldwide, likes his job better.