Monday, August 27, 2018

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham

Reviewed by Jeanne

Rick Dockery is an NFL quarterback. . . or was an NFL quarterback.  The third stringer has been bounced around from team to team, ending up with the Cleveland Browns.  Called onto the field near the end of the AFC championship game with the Browns up by 17, Dockery makes several brilliant plays—brilliant only if you are cheering for the opposing Broncos.  His performance is widely judged to be the worst in the history of the NFL.

Not surprisingly, Dockery finds himself once again unemployed and perhaps unemployable in the NFL, maybe even in North America.  There is one offer on the table, however:  a stint with the Parma Panthers.  Yes, in Parma, Italy. Apparently American football is enjoyed by a small but enthusiastic group of Italians. There are teams, largely composed of unpaid players, who play a shortened season and then have their own version of the Super Bowl.  Reluctantly, but feeling a need to not only get out of town but out of the country, Rick packs his bags.

This is one of Grisham’s non-mystery books and had been on my TBR (“to be read”) list for some time.  Thanks to BPL Bingo, it finally moved to the top of the pile.  I had heard good things about this book, and they were warranted.  It’s a light fun read, whether or not you know much about football.  I watch my share of college football and finally figured out how the downs work, but mainly I yell “Go-go-go-go-go!” when my team has the ball and “Get him-get him-get him” when the other team has the ball. The plays went over my head (like Rick’s passes) but that didn’t matter.  The story is really about an American being introduced to Italian culture.  It’s funny, warm, and charming.  There’s a bit of romance, a dab of history and architecture, and lots of food.  Oh, yeah, and football.

If you’re a football aficionado, you’ll probably get a lot out of the play calling, but it’s not necessary to enjoy the book as a whole.  There’s only one caveat:  you may find yourself craving Italian food—and not fast food Italian, either.

Now my only problem is to decide whether to use this for the “read a book about sports” square or “read a book featuring food.”

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