“I summon forth my immense dislike for Great Benefit and what it’s done to my client, and I roll up my sleeves. Mr. Leo Drummond may be a litigating wizard, and he may have countless minions at his beck and call, but I, Rudy Baylor, have nothing else to do. I’m bright and I can work. He wants to start a paper war with me, fine. I’ll smother him.”
– Rudy Baylor, The Rainmaker
John Grisham is one of the most successful writers of the last 25 years. I’ve read only three of his books: The Testament, Calico Joe and The Rainmaker. I thought these were all excellent.
I’m very selective in choosing books. Reading is very time consuming, at least it is for me. I’ve posted before how I’m a latecomer to reading. As a child my reading was practically nil and I am still far from being a fast reader. Yet, about 10 years ago I earnestly committed myself to books and found what book lovers have known all along.
One thing I regret is all the amazing heroes of literature, both fiction and non-fiction, that I would have had the pleasure of meeting if I had overcome my aversion to reading for pleasure earlier.
But this post isn’t about my previous reading habbits. And it’s not about Mr. Grisham, or any of his books. Well in a way it is about The Rainmaker. But to be exact, it’s about the protagonist in that book, Rudy Baylor, a recent law school graduate.
Rudy is a young guy struggling to make his way. He pretty much has no family and is on his own. Having built up quite a debt to put himself through law school, working when he can as a bartender, he’s already been through the school of hard knocks.
Through it all he makes the best choices he can, which often is between bad and worse.
And yet he has a determination to face the future, and does it with self-deprecating humor. Rudy’s a good guy trying his best to make good decisions. He’s a positive and yet very human character.
As I said earlier, I usually do a lot of research on what I end up reading. My investigation found that The Rainmaker was reviewed well and that it’s Grisham’s funniest novel. My diligence was well rewarded. The book deals with serious subjects yes, still as it’s written from the first-person perspective of Rudy Baylor, I found it such a delight to listen in on his thoughts.
I have a passion for characters in whom I find encouragement. That’s one of the reasons we read books, right?, to forget about the often harsh world and find hope and inspiration from these characters as they meet challenges head on, often stumbling as they find their way.
Rudy’s is a wonderful David vs. Goliath story. As the story moves along he begins to find self-confidence based of his belief that what he is doing is right.
“This is a real cheap shot, but for some reason I couldn’t resist…
Drummond’s scowl intensifies, and I smile in return. In the few brief seconds that we stand and watch each other, I learn an enormously valuable lesson. He’s just a man. He might be a legendary trial lawyer with lots of notches in his belt, but he’s just another man. He’s not about to step across the aisle and slap me, because I’d whip his ass. He can’t hurt me, and neither can his little covey of minions.
Courtrooms are level from one side to the other. My table is as large as his.”
I find it amusing that more than once Grisham refers to the big corporate lawyer’s team as “minions,” the name from a current hit animated movie of little fellows who’s singular desire is to serve an evil master.
Because there are “so many books, [and] so little time,” (Frank Zappa), I often go to an extreme to find the books most “worthy” of my time.
Rudy Baylor’s character shows growth in wisdom, compassion, self-confidence and what he is able to achieve. He’s an example of courage in the face of extreme odds, a young man who can be an example to everyone.
As Rudy says to himself, “I’m alone and outgunned, scared and inexperienced, but I’m right.” He’s the kind of hero that makes reading a pleasure.