Playing for Pizza, by John Grisham

Cover ImageFinished 3-18-08, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 2007

“I never liked Cleveland, the city, the fans, the team, and I hated the stadium.”                      Chapter 5 

I bought this book because it is about a Cleveland Brown football player who moves to Italy and I thought that since Jason and I are traveling to Italy in a few weeks it might be a fun parallel.  I was right!  Rick is a football player driven out of Cleveland and the NFL because of a monumentally bad game.  In Italy he finds a team in Parma who wants him as their quarterback and his induction into Italian culture is educational.

First, I think John Grisham must have had something very bad happen to him in Cleveland.  There was quite a bit of Cleveland bashing and not just the usual stereotypical kind.  I’ve been in Cleveland almost eight years and I’ve heard all the jokes, but often the city gets a bum rap.

Now after Rick moves to Italy to play NFL football in an Italian league he is in for a culture shock.  We learn a lot about the history, the food, the people, the culture and the more mundane things, like how to order a cup of coffee.  Rick must accept his fate on a team and in a league where the only person who gets paid is the quarterback; everyone else on the team has regular jobs. 

The book is about Rick’s journey from the typical American dream to the reality of a quiet life with people he likes and a game he loves.  Grisham must have fallen in love with Italy and really wanted to find a way to express his love for the country.  The book is okay, nothing special, but if you are getting ready to go to Italy yourself (YEA:)) then it will get you excited and teach you a little too.

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