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This book is definitely not one of the best John Grisham novels. In fact, after reading it, I was put off reading anything else by him for some time.
The novel tells the story of a failed American quarterback whose agent sends him to play for an American football team in Italy. After that introduction, you've pretty much got the whole story and I'm struggling to know what else to add. Whilst there is a plot, of sorts, you can probably already guess what it is and how the story ends for our hero.
The story is well-written, as are all books by this author, but when the main theme is American football (about which I know next to nothing) and the plot involves a naive American coming to strange old Europe (where I live), the story just has nothing going for it for me.
If you are an American living in the US then probably you will enjoy this story. Otherwise, I suggest that you avoid it.
John Grisham, what an author. gritty, gripping, controversial and up with the times. He writes with such a legal brain that we often suspect he has been to law school himself.
But occasionally, Just occasionally, he writes a book, purely it would seem for his own bit of fun. Gone is the tight concentrated writing style of his legal thrillers and in comes a loose, almost sloppy, but completely refreshing "on a whim" tale. It would appear that Grisham occasionally veers away from his legal writing in order to catch a breath air and keep his enthusisam for writing alive. In all honesty I don't mind a jot that he does. Light reading books such as this and bleachers also keep my enthusiasm for his new stories alive too.
The book opens to find our erstwhile hero laying in a hospital bed. Knocked out and badly injured from an exceptionally harsh tackle in the Americal football NFL league. Branded the "greatest goat" he is ousted from his team, his town and effectively his career in the time it takes to throw one botched pass and in the process loose his team a prestigious trophy.
Exiled to the Parma region of Italy to the dubious heights of the Italian NFL league, where players play without a salary but for the sheer love of the game (and of course the free all-you-can-eat pizza on a friday night.) The story follows Rick Dockery throughout all his trials and tribualtions of learning his way around a foreign country. Not one he ever chose to visit at that! From learning to drive a manual gearboxed car, to learning the lingo to falling for the stunning but slightly screwed up italian opera singer we see Rick gradually settling into his new life and falling in love and not only with the country either!!
This book is a wonderfully light read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I do feel that Grisham didn't make quite enough of the italian setting and could have gripped the reader and pulled us in more with descriptions of his surroundings. Italy is a stunning country, make the most of it!!!!
Also certain items within the story are very quickly scratched over. The book has the potential to be half the thickness again by expanding certain storylines and certainly not to the detriment of the book either.
All in all i enjoyed the story and found it very easy to read at the end of a long day when my brain didn't feel like concentrating anymore! Not Grisham at his finest but certainly a more than acceptable effort from this fine author.
Playing for Pizza by John Grisham - The tale of failure and pride recovery !!!
I have been a great admirer of John Grisham for a long time but somehow this book skipped my notice for quite a long until I read it a month back.
Set up against background of Italy and football made me traverse through the book eagerly.The main protagonist is Rick whose performance in the game was terrible and cost his team the match. This character then crawls to find a place in an unfamiliar terrain in Italy.
The book draws my attention towards a contrast where I find player in Italian football league are engrossed in the game not for money but for fun - Pizza, Wine!! and love for their game. I believe Grisham has depicted Italian cuisine and culture quite vividly.
I find the chapters quite short and easily readable however lot of sporting action were bit of let down for me. I love American football but still find little too much emphasis being given at places which could have been done away with.
Although the book ends on a high note with Rick bouncing back and providing the readers a delightful and hopeful ending to the sympathetic character I find the turns and twists missing in this book. May be; I had a preconceived notion of drastic changes to plot reading earlier works of John Grisham.
With this review I leave it to you to decide if you want to plunge yourself to this offbeat Grisham's work away from legal twirl.
John Grisham's forte, over the years of his highly successful literary career, has been unequivocably his legal thrillers, and these are without doubt my favourites of his novels. However, he has also written a number of novels which are more of a story-telling nature, documentary-style and telling of a stage in someone's life as opposed to giving us a thriller based on a courtroom case and its surrounding events.
From the semi-autobiographical The Painted House, to the nostalgic Bleachers and the funny Skipping Christmas, Grisham has done very well in branching outside of the legal aspect of his books, and Playing for Pizza is perhaps the one I enjoyed the most out of them. It features a washed out American Football quarterback as he is relocated by his agent to play for the Parma Panthers in the Italian American Football League.
Grisham handles all the changes this could mean for someone very well. His writing style is very flowing, and although not as fast and simply written as perhaps a James Patterson thriller with short chapters, Playing for Pizza was a relatively short novel and the story flowed very quickly for me indeed. I have the advantage that I played American Football for a number of years, and as a result I picked up all the jargon and description of the games as they occurred, but I feel that if you aren't familiar with the sport, then a lot of the book will be lost on the British reader.
However, the parts of the story that are off the field involve a lot of life changes, and Grisham brings the main character of Rick Dockery through a bit of a journey of self-discovery, and we see the character develop dramatically as he adjusts to the Italian ways of doing things. Grisham actually researched this book a great deal, and bases a lot of the places and people on real life experiences he had wilst doing the research. This is entirely believable as the author does make the whole tale seem rather magical as Dockery finds himself meeting with judges and restaurant owners and being treated exceptionally well by pretty much everyone in Italy, while his arch-enemy sports journalist back in Cleveland keeps writing vicious stories about him even though he's no longer there! Grisham uses this comparison between US hostility and the Italian welcome to make us as readers want to be there rather than anywhere else.
I highly recommend reading this. If you are a fan of American Football, then you pick up more of the jargon than if the game is a mystery to you, but this lack of understanding would not ruin the story, as the general gist is always explained in terms of whether what happened was good or bad, and to what degree as well. Playing For Pizza is a highly entertaining non-legal fiction novel from Grisham, and is definitely one worth watching. It is currently available from amazon.co.uk for £3.99
Having recently read 'Bleachers' by John Grisham, I was keen to try another by this author, as I believe you cannot judge an author on just book.
About this author:
John Grisham has written 18 best selling novels. He lives in both Virginia and Mississippi with his family. 'Playing for Pizza' was written and published in 2007.
Storyline of the book:
Rick Dockery is in hospital having suffered concussion from the American Super Bowl Final. However, his prospects are bleak as his performance in the match as 3rd choice Quarterback makes him a laughing stock to most Americans. He is sacked by his club the Cleveland Browns and ridiculed by the press as 'top of the all time Goat list'.
His agent Arnie, despite this finds a club that are interested and will pay him for his services. But this will be a whole new ball game for Rick as the team are the Parma Panthers. He is a well travelled professional but he didn't even know they played American football in Italy.
So Rick agrees, believing that getting away from the press and a possible paternity suit by one of the Brown's Cheerleaders is his best option. He very soon becomes a celebrity with his new Parma team mates, who play the game as amateurs for the love of the game in a country dominated by soccer.
He is introduced to a totally different culture and way of life. The book follows the Panthers season and in particular Rick's ups and downs during it, in the quest for the Italian Super Bowl crown.
My thoughts on the book:
I choose this book simply as I liked the title. I thought it sounded intriguing, I never realised it was about American football. If I had I would definitely not have picked it. As the only other book I have read from this author 'Bleachers' was also about football. To be honest I don't like or understand the sport of American football!!
I must admit I have struggled in the past with John Grisham novel's as I don't enjoy the courtroom legal theme he often employs. However this book I found not so deep and complicated, it was exciting and interesting in fact more of a pleasure to read.
The storyline I did find interesting. I liked the idea of a man having to move to a completely new country, with all the pleasures and pitfalls of a new culture to learn and adapt to. The author is extremely good at describing life in Italy and clearly knows, understands and clearly loves the place.
Grisham's quality and style of writing allows you to get inside the main characters mind so you can relate and understand how he feels about his new surroundings.
In some respects the football was predictable, but it was written in a way that maintained your interest, with good scenes and great characters. I liked the concept of this disgraced football player in America coming to Italy where he was treated as a hero but his team mates and fans alike, starting a new and very different life.
One criticism I would have with the storyline is when meets and starts dating a young American girl Livvy. The emphasis of the book suddenly shifts. Before it was centred primarily on the football, but when he meets her it's more about exploring Italy and its culture and the football as more of in the background I think the author just shifted it too much as by half way into the book you are drawn into the success or failure of Rick's Parma team.
The book is well written and the pace of it is good. The author makes his lead character interesting while vulnerable at the same time. And he also has this ability to bring the story to life through creative writing so that you continuing reading. Even if like me you do not like football.
The book was quite short but it sailed by because it was an interesting and unusual story.
I particularly like the author's notes at the end of the book. This shares with the reader his experiences and tells you a little about how the book came to fruition.
Despite the subject matter of American football, I found the book to be very well written and an enjoyable read. I found the characters easy to relate to the progress interesting to follow.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good quality writing. However if you don't like or understand American football it may be best to stay clear of it.
Published by Century 2007
Price: Amazon £7.44 (RRP £15.00)
Information of the author: www.johngrisham.co.uk
Thanks for reading my review.
This review was also printed on Ciao.
@CPTDaniels January 2009
I borrowed this book from my local library, and due to me not being fully aware of what I was doing I actually borrowed the large print format, which to be honest was much easier on my eyes, but at the age of 26 I feel was not necessarily the format I needed!
However, I digress. The book I had was a hardback version it is 303 pages long with 2 pages of authors notes at the end split into 31 chapters.
I have read many John Grisham books and this is the first one where I felt slightly let down. When I picked the book up I read the back and saw that it was about an American football player called Rick Dockery, but I wrongly assumed that there would be some mention of legal action in the book.
This is the first non-legal John Grisham book that I have read and to be honest it was not quite my cup of tea. You can tell from reading the book that John has a love of all things Italian and a passable knowledge of American Football, but this was not nearly as stimulating to me as his normal court related tales.
The characters in the book seem quite unbelievable, I can understand a group of Italian men wanting to play American football, but the fact that they all seem to pleased to have a payed American on the team, and how friendly they are seems a bit much at times.
I would say that there is a love interest running through the story, however it was anything but interesting in my opinion.
There is a lot of sporting action on the pages, and I am sure any fan of American football would get swept up in the plays, however as I am not a big fan of any sport I found it a little boring and skim read quite a few pages of the 'action'.
The chapters are quite short and most of them are broken up into smaller sections so it is quite easy to read, for me reading on a bus I need short sections to make sure I don't get too engrossed and miss my stop! It took me a while to read this book as I just didn't get caught up in the action like I normally would.
I would have to say after reading this book that I would not bother reading another John Grisham book that is not set in a legal background again. However, if you are a fan of either Italy or American football then this may well be a book for you!
ISBN - 978-1-84782-232-1
Price-around £6.99 (check normal places for best deals!)