bookrev: Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
I’ve been lucky enough not only to travel to Italy, but to have some excellent Italian friends. By myself and with my family and co-workers, I’ve been to Milan, Venice, Parma, Rome, Verona and many other beautiful cities. I moved one of my employees and friends to Milano, and she subsequently married a wonderful Italian man.
My friend Bob knows this, and he knew I’d really like Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. It is a quick enjoyable read about an NFL player who loses the big game and gets a second chance in the Italian leagues… but the descriptions of the Italian people, places, food, drink and their passion for all of the above are what make this book worth the read.
Rick Dockery absolutely blows the Cleveland Browns seemingly locked up chance at a Super Bowl in a scant few minutes. The only contract he can get after that is with the Italian league Parma Panthers, where only the Americans are paid (maximum three Americans) and the Italians play for Pizza. The culture shock of Rick the ugly American thrown into Parma, Italy is well played, as he wrestles with food that is anything but fast, skinny parking spaces, opera, language barriers, and ultimately people who play the game of football for love not money.
The plot is predictable, as are most of the characters. But it is Grisham’s descriptions of the culture, the food, wine, the people and their love of everything that captures the essence of the places I have visited in Italy. His depiction of Parma and their pride in their cheese, ham, wine and everything is spot on and warmly drawn.
This is definitely a short airplane read, but very enjoyable and memorable.