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Playing for Pizza: A Novel, by John Grisham and Christopher Evan Welch (Narrator)

Playing for Pizza
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Where does a third-string NFL quarterback go when he loses the big game, antagonizes the fans and humiliates himself by earning the title of biggest "goat" in the history of football? Would you believe Parma, Italy? A small group of Italians, passionate about American football, are thrilled that Rick Dockery agrees to play for the Parma Panthers. Although Rick would much rather play for an American team, his agent assures him that Parma is his only option. The deal clincher is that by leaving the United States for a while, Rick will be able to avoid being served with paternity papers by one of the many cheerleaders he's "befriended" over the years.

Rick arrives in Parma with golf clubs, clothes suitable for an American resort and an attitude that that could qualify him as an ugly American. Fortunately his teammates are so happy to have a real NFL quarterback that they overlook his gauche behavior and enthusiastically welcome him into their city, their homes and their team. Tradition has it that only the Americans are actually paid to play football, but the entire team gathers for pizza as payment for their participation in the games. John Grisham has written a book that's as much travel guide as novel. Not only does he explain the sumptuous pizza meals in the trattorias, but he describes the wines and magnificent Italian dishes Rick's hosts offer him as he visits one team member and then another. A love interest in the form of an American college girl provides cultural and historic commentary as she leads Rick though museums and churches in enchanting Italian towns and cities.

This is a charming book that will appeal to a wide range of listeners. Football fans will enjoy the descriptions of the games and plays from Rick's NFL and college careers, and they will find the discussion of the quest for the Italian Super Bowl title fascinating. Lovers of Italian history, opera and food will find themselves longingly speculating about the possibility of planning a trip to Italy to personally experience what Rick (and Grisham) enjoyed. John Grisham always delivers a good story, and Playing for Pizza is no exception.

Ruth Mormon

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