Playing for Pizza by John Grisham – Book Review
Methinks Signor Grisham has fallen in love with all things Italiano. After The Broker, set primarily in Bologna, here we have Playing for Pizza, set mainly in Parma.
The story revolves around American Football player Rick Dockery, chased out of Cleveland for throwing away the ball and losing a vital match. Rick pitches up in Parma to play for the local Panthers before a few people and their dogs.
Along the way we are treated to pages and pages of detailed information on Italian food, information that drove me regularly to the refrigerator, pages on Italian architecture, the churches and castles and civic buildings that clearly impress Signor Grisham greatly. There is even a section on how to start, drive, and park a Fiat Punto vehicle, startling information that shares with us that the car actually possesses a clutch pedal, and how to use it, and god forbid, wind down windows too. Though perhaps the most startling revelation is the fact that most, if not all the churches in Parma are catholic. Goodness gracious me. What would Martin Luther make of that?
Somewhat predictably, Rick falls in love with the local young and glamorous opera singer, or does he, for she soon disappears and is never heard of again, and just as soon as we are introduced to the Panthers’ rivals, the horrid Bergamo Lions, I was able to see the ending. There are some poignant, humorous and moving moments too, mainly revolving around Franco’s gluteus muscles, but we won’t go into that any further thank you very much, but nothing to compare with what might be found in say, The Painted House.
The book is a pleasant enough read, even for someone like me who cannot understand, nor has any interest in American Football. It is not a book for the slightly overweight, for the long descriptions of ham and cheese will drive you bananas. Perhaps it should come with a government health warning.
Playing with Pizza does give the impression it was written in something of a hurry, perhaps to please the marketing persons, (get another one out for Christmas Johnny!) utilising many of Signor Grisham’s latest holiday notes. For all that, it will appeal to his legions of loyal fans, though whether it will attract too many new ones, is a moot point. It isn’t edgy, particularly moving, ground breaking, that exciting, or unputdownable, though there is nothing wrong with it at all. Make no mistake, I enjoyed reading it, and many others will too.
If I might be so bold as to make a prediction, I’ll wager that next time Signor Grisham will revert to his first love, The Law. After all, there are many gentlemen in Italy who could do with a good lawyer, allegedly, and I can see it all now, mobsters being successfully defended by a renegade American lawyer with a dodgy past, with lots of…ham…and cheese.
Could Playing for Pizza be the Christmas number one seller? I doubt it, for there are much better books out there to pick from just now. Perhaps we should Skip Christmas this year…though that is another story entirely.
Playing for Pizza by John Grisham