tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 22: the John Grisham edition

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera is a usually weekly but not always, sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.


In the 1990s, books and movies by Mississippi lawyer-legislator turned novelist John Grisham were ubiquitous to the point of being unavoidable. His success probably began with the 1993 film adaptation of The Firm, which was followed by a steady stream of Hollywood adaptations starring recognizable actors. Some were pure legal thrillers, while others dealt with unresolved issues in the culture of the post-Civil Rights South.

A Time to Kill (1989) and the movie (1996)

Grisham’s first novel, admittedly rejected by several publishers before its acceptance by a small press, tells the story of a black man in a small town in Mississippi who kills the two white men who’ve raped his ten-year-old daughter. This time, we’ve got Mathew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, and Samuel L. Jackson.

The Firm (1991) and the movie (1993)

The far-more-successful second novel was picked up by New York publishing house Doubleday and made into a movie that stars Tom Cruise. The story this time is about a young lawyer who joins the dream law firm, only to find out that there’s an insidious underbelly to its façade.

The Pelican Brief (1992) and the movie (1993)

By this time, the author was showing how prolific he could be. The film versions stars Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington.

The Client (1993), the movie (1994), and the TV series (1995–1996)

And the hits kept on rolling. This time, the star is Susan Sarandon, and she’s protecting a boy who witnessed a mob death.

The Chamber (1994) and the movie (1996)

In the movie, Gene Hackman plays an elderly Ku Kluxer on death row for a 1967 bombing, and Chris O’Donnell plays his grandson, who is a liberal lawyer from Chicago. The story has the younger man trying to make sense of who his stolid, gruff grandfather is. Although the blog Screenrant called this the worst of the John Grisham movies, I kind of liked it.

The Rainmaker (1995) and the movie (1997)

Not to be confused with the play that was made into a Burt Lancaster movie, this novel and its adaptation have us once again following a young lawyer. This time, the main character is in Memphis, fighting an insurance corporation for denying a policyholder who deserved treatment for their son’s cancer. The movie stars Matt Damon.

The Runaway Jury (1996) and the movie (2003)

This was kind of the last one in the string, and its movie came along a few years later. Grisham’s novels continue to sell, of course, but the annual movie thing had fizzled. This early 21st-century adaptation stars John Cusack, who had left his ’80s nerd archetype behind and become the quasi-action star we saw in late-’90s films like Grosse Pointe Blank and Con Air.

Other novels from the late 1990s that were not made into theatrical-release movies were The Partner (1997), The Street Lawyer (1998), and The Testament (1999). However, one of Grisham’s “discarded” stories was made into the movie The Gingerbread Man (1998), and The Street Lawyer became a made-for-TV movie in 2003.


level:deepsouth is an online anthology about growing up Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The anthology is open to submissions of creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, and reviews) and images (photos and flyers), as well as to contributions for the lists.

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 1

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera is a usually weekly but not always, sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.


Religion Landscape Study, South Carolina

This Pew Research Center study shows that 78% of adult GenXers in South Carolina are Christians, with the bulk majority (19%) as “unaffiliated.” Every other religion added together makes up the remaining 3%. (No year was clearly available for the study.)

Party Affiliation among Generation X by state

This info from 2014 shows that, among GenXers in Southern states, there was a mix of major-Republican and majority-Democrat states. Apparently, at this time Mississippi was no longer considered a state by the Pew Research Center.

University of Georgia launches a newsletter for Generation X alumni.

excerpted: “From a design standpoint, The Fast Times is reminiscent of the popular zines of the ‘80s, where people made magazines that were small in size and easily distributable. Their creators often gave them away for free to increase the spread of their opinions on music, film and other cultural followings.”

Alabama journalist Tim Lockette publishes two novels.

excerpted: “Lockette’s time as a newspaperman lends authenticity to Tell it True. But the 49-year-old said both books are colored by his personal experiences as a member of Generation X – the demographic group born roughly between 1965 and 1980 who were often criticized in popular culture as “slackers” but later gained a reputation for entrepreneurship while steering clear of political activism.”

Demographic breakdown of the Mississippi legislature

These graphs were compiled and are offered by the Center for Youth Political Participation at New Jersey’s Rutgers University. Among the graphs and charts is the category of generation.

“Generation X can flip the script in their communities,” by Kristi Gustavson, CEO of the Community Foundation of North Louisiana

excerpted: “One thing for certain about Gen X, perhaps as with any other generation, is that we refused to adhere to the constraints put upon us by the generation before us.  We sought to very uniquely define ourselves.  Of course, bucking the system is nothing new and certainly not invented by Gen Xers.  Every generation does this to some degree.  What makes each generation unique is not that we choose not to conform it is how we choose not to conform.”

Blues Old Stand, live

The band, which took its name from a tiny community in Macon County, was a staple of the Montgomery, Alabama music scene in the 1980s and 1990s. The band streamed a live show on Facebook in April 2021.


level:deepsouth is an online anthology about growing up Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The anthology is open to submissions of creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, and reviews) and images (photos and flyers), as well as to contributions for the lists.

Seeking submissions of… (movies)

level:deepsouth is open to contributions about the movies that were meaningful to GenXers in the Deep South, and there are two different ways to contribute.

First, if the movie is about life in the Deep South in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s and all you really want to do is send the title, you can submit it for the lists. This offer is open to anyone who knows of a movies that should be included.

Second, if the movie isn’t about life in the Deep South in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s but you want to write about it, you could write something about what the movie is and why it was meaningful to you growing up as a GenXer in the Deep South, then submit that for the watch & listen section. For that matter, the watch & listen section of level:deepsouth is also open to works about the favorite movie theaters, movie rental places, retail stores, or personal collections where we got our movies.