|A die-hard fan will read anything written by a favorite author, and I am that for John Grisham. I don’t always care for the end results, but I will always give his books my all. Last winter I finally got around to reading The Broker in which Grisham none-too-subtly extolled the virtues of the Italian culture. The premise of Playing for Pizza leaves no doubt that his entire point in writing this slim novel is to continue sharing that love affair with his readers. Pizza, above all else, is a lengthy love letter to Italy.
The story of Pizza is simple and, honestly, not incrediby interesting. A washed-up and mediocre NFL quarterback has only one remaining opportunity to live out his sports dream — playing American football in Parma, Italy; I doubt that a true football fan could have withstood the setting, with so little of it present, and being the furthest thing from that fan, I found this “plot” little more than filler that I was anxious to breeze past. This small thread is barely a narrative as Grisham uses page after page to describe the foods and wine of Parma, the art and architecture, the history of the region. And while that was very interesting to me (and caused me to crave prosciutto and cheese in a way I never had before), I cannot say that I enjoyed this book. Reading it, and completing it, was simply a promise to always read Grisham’s offerings. I did not care for the main character, never seeing redemption in him, and I’ve always felt this was a tenet of Grisham’s novels, so Pizza was sorely lacking in many, many ways. But Playing for Pizza is a true summer novel, slim in size and breezy in content, and I was ready for such a break in my reading. I look forward now to Grisham’s most recent publication, a return to form and the reason I became a fan in the first place.