Monday, February 04, 2008

Book Review: "Playing for Pizza" by John Grisham

Mega-bestselling author John Grisham is known primarily for his legal thrillers, some of which have been turned into motion pictures. He is an avid football fan, too, and occasionally takes a break from writing about the courtroom and heads for the gridiron. His first effort in that regard was titled Bleachers. Now he returns with another football novel, Playing for Pizza. It’s always a risk for a bestselling author to venture out of his readers’ comfort zone. They have certain expectations when they see “John Grisham” on the cover, and authors run the risk of alienating their loyal fans if they don’t meet those expectations. I can’t imagine being disappointed in this football novel, however.

I’d describe Playing for Pizza as Breezy and Thoroughly Enjoyable.

Playing for Pizza is one of those novels you can enjoy on several levels. Grisham gives us an intriguing, offbeat football story, a series of lovely postcard-like images of traveling through Italy, a good deal of humor--even a warm and hopeful ending in which the main character, quarterback Rick Dockery, achieves redemption not just on the football field, but through the possibility of finding love as well. He realistically portrays the downside of NFL gridiron fame and contrasts it with an Italian football league where the players are not in the game for money, but for the sheer joy of competition.

Rick is likable though flawed and Grisham’s supporting cast is full of quirky, interesting individuals. I really enjoyed the maniacal sportswriter character who comes all the way from Cleveland to Italy to carry on an in-print vendetta against Rick for ineptly ruining the Browns’ chances of winning a championship (by throwing three consecutive interceptions!). I wondered if that character might represent some of the rather nasty book critics in the media who take pot shots at Grisham’s novels from time to time, mostly out of envy because Grisham has sold so many millions of books.

All in all, Playing for Pizza is an amusing, fast-paced story that can be enjoyed whether you are a football fan or not. Check it out at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385525001/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

1 comment:

sashastri said...

Good Post! Very informative, glad that you are going to continue writing things like this!

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