Playing For Pizza: A Novel

by John Grisham

Hardcover, 2007

Call number




Doubleday (2007), Edition: 1, 262 pages


A former American football star joins the Parma Panthers to play football in a small town in Italy.

User reviews

LibraryThing member SqueakyChu
Okay. I admit that I only picked up this John Grisham CD in my library because I could not find another CD with a narrator I could easily understand (I am hearing impaired). After reluctantly placing this disc into my CD player, what I found was a most engaging story. Agreed that some of it was not
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totally realistic, but, in exchange for a well-written literary novel, what I got was a surprisingly entertaining story. It was laugh-out loud funny in some places (driving that manually-controlled Fiat) and as exciting as a play-by-play (the football games themselves). Don't choose this book unless you want light entertainment and have at least an inkling of the rules of football. If you are okay with both, you'll find some fun reading here.

After reading this book, I was later delighted to find out that there is actually a Parma Panthers team that plays American football in Parma, Italy!
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LibraryThing member ctpress
No lawyers in this novel - but a washed out football player who finds a second chance - in Italy. Not high drama or suspence but just a humorous, laid-back story about realizing what you truly love and care for. After reading it you want to go to Italy and taste parmesan, antipasti and chilled
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white wine. I'm happy I have followed american football a little bit - because there's a lot of technical stuff I wouldn't know about as an european - we play real football, you know....Translate: Soccer.
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LibraryThing member SNSWOODS
Football in Italy. John Grisham expresses a knowledge of the game and the culture. NFL-failure Rick Dockery is a jerk. Rick Dockery is the opposite. Romance, cuisine and architecture. Grisham gives attention to detail. The series of events make it a great story.
LibraryThing member clif_hiker
It's amazing that so many disliked this story... "it's about football", "Dockery's a jerk", "Grisham should stick with law stories", etc. I think that's too bad, because in amongst all the eating and football lies a story of a young man finding and facing his own weaknesses, and learning to
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overcome them. I think this is one of Grisham's better stories. It makes me want to visit Italy... heck it makes me want to live in Italy, and become part of the culture, and not just for the food and drink, but for the comaraderie, the wisdom, and the challenges. If a story can make me feel that way, well what more can you ask for?
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LibraryThing member johnfgaines
Like any Grisham, it is an easy read. However, this isn't one of Grisham's better works. Its plot is predictable and some of the "getting there" to the inevitable conclusion seems plodding and, dare I say it, a little boring.
LibraryThing member carrjr
Rick Dockery was a third-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. In the AFC Championship game against Denver Rick got into the game. With a 17-point lead & minutes to go, he lost the game. He became a laughingstock. His agent, Arnie, tried to find another team to take him. No luck. It's been 8
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teams in 6 years. Arnie finally finds him a team in Parma, Italy. Rick has never been to Europe & doesn't even know where Parma is located. Coach Russo meets Rick and shows him his apartment & car (manual). Charlie Cray from the Cleveland Post is brutal in his editorial about Rick. At one point in the book, Rick flies to Cleveland & punches Charlie in the face. In the end the Parma Panthers win the Italian SuperBowl. Livvy is a junior art major living in Italy on a visa. She & Rick meet up at a bar and become fast friends, then lovers. Livvy comes from a well-to-do family & her parents are in the middle of a divorce. Livvy doesn't want to go back to home even though her parents have sent an investigator and her visa has just expired. The book leaves off that they stay together.
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LibraryThing member porchsitter55
A very different book for Grisham, but quite good. A disgraced NFL quarterback finds himself out of a job after single-handedly blowing his team's chance at the Super Bowl, but thanks to his dedicated sports agent, ends up traveling to Parma, Italy, to play on an Italian football team for much less
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money. The quarterback grudgingly accepts his fate, sure that this year of football will be something to be endured....only to discover the warm, rich, culture of a country so very different from his American home. He finds the players of his new team to be hearty, dedicated and enthusiastic beyond anything he's seen before. He surprisngly discovers the draw of Italian opera, and is drawn to a beautiful, young opera singer. The descriptive text that Grisham uses in this book brings out the pure essence of a beautiful country and it's people. Although I, personally, was not completely thrilled with this book's story line, still, as I read, I could really picture in my mind the people, the places, and the "feel" of Parma, Italy. If you are a football fan, get this book.
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LibraryThing member whjensen
"Under the Tuscan Sun" (movie version) meets "Bull Durham". Obviously written with the movie rights in mind, yet strangely refreshing, light, and nice to read. Will it be a 21st century classic in 50 years. Well, no. But does it entertain today? Yes. It's a masterpiece of writing for what it is
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intended to be. And let's give credit for that. Much like a Tom Clancy novel, it does not pretend to be serious. Like it's title, it's pizza and beer for Monday Night Football.
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LibraryThing member Vidalia
Really charming. If you understand football, it makes it even better.
LibraryThing member mikeandmelinda
When third-string quarterback Rick Dockery blows the AFC Championship Game and costs the Cleveland Browns a chance at their first Super Bowl, he has no options to continue his football career other than to play for a small Italian team in Parma. Although different from John Grisham's courtroom
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dramas, I enjoyed this slowly-paced story. Not a lot happens in the book per se, but the journey Rick goes on is satisfying to read about. Also, it is very football-heavy, so if you don't enjoy or understand the sport, most of the descriptions of the games will probably be boring.
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LibraryThing member nemoman
I have not read Grisham since his first couple of legal thrillers, I was disappointed in this book. A washed up, third-string NFL quarterback joins a football team in Parma, Italy for a season. The stereotypical cultural differences arise, but are not explored in any depth. That is because the
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protagonist lacks depth. Heck the entire novel lacks any depth. Throw in a shallow token love interest and you have a very simply written book with a simple plot. Read Tim Park's Season With Verona to see how good this type of book could have been.
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LibraryThing member mcal
It was easy to get engrossed with Rick Dockery and his Italian teammates in this novel. Though I am not a football fan or know the rules and regulations, I was able to follow along and still root for the Parma Panthers. Watching Rick's personality gradually change through the course of the book.

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would have given it a higher rating if I had a bigger interest in football. Playing for Pizza paled in comparison to Grisham's legal thrillers but was still a good read and believable.
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LibraryThing member TigerLMS
Rick Dockery's football career never amounted to much. He played for 8 NFL teams in 6 years, almost always as a third-string quarterback. He didn't gain national attention until he managed to blow a game that Cleveland had wrapped up-- a title game that would've sent the Browns to the Super Bowl.
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With nowhere left to play and dozens of death threats from Browns fans, his agent sends him to Italy to play for the Parma Panthers in a league that Dockery never knew existed. Playing for Pizza, like several other escapes from courtroom thrillers (notably Bleachers and A Painted House), features a character at a crossroads of life, searching for meaning. While football is a core part of the book, it is essentially a backdrop. Dockery arrives in Italy with no expectations of staying longer than necessary to get the call from his agent that brings him back to the NFL. However, Dockery grows throughout his Italian adventure, and is a (somewhat) changed man by the end of the novel. This is not classic literature and will not be taught in classrooms. But it's not pulp fiction, either. It is a good, quick, light read. It's fast-paced, and I suspect it will hold the interest of most casual readers.
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LibraryThing member clik4
New to and still wary of football, I enjoyed reading Playing for Pizza. A down-on-his-luck football player finds himself in Parma, Italy - home of the world’s best Parmesan cheese, among other local foods of pride- playing ball for a previously unknown football league. The games ring true; the
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competition, the comradery, the injuries and the excitement.

Amidst a new culture, an unknown language and a disdainful attitude, Rick Dockery plays a season tougher than expected, falls in love with the cuisine, finds himself a member of a team while finding himself in the process. A quick, although somewhat superficial read.
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LibraryThing member maquisleader
I picked this up because of the title. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was about a NFL never was coming to Italy to play semi-pro ball. Fun read.
LibraryThing member sunshine608
Enjoyed it for what it was. A book i read while recovering from oral surgery. Interesting and a light read. The main character sucked, but I enjoyed reading about Italy and the food. and some of the football although it seemed farfetched- at least to me.
LibraryThing member BoundTogetherForGood
This was a fun book for me to read. I am not a Grisham reader, typically. Duffy encouraged me to read this book. I figured I probalby would. Then I found it on my desk one morning and wondered how he managed that. Turns out David had bought it at an airport while on business.

As Duff said, the book
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is about American football in Italy. But it is not so loaded with football that I couldn't manage to read it. It is also about relationships and cultures and new beginnings. It certainly didn't hurt that as I began reading this book David and I took a trip, alone, to Florence, Italy. It was our first trip to Italy. The lead character in the book has a romantic weekend in Florence in the book. He also happened to stay at the exact hotel which we had already booked! It was fun to hear him talk even briefly about a city we had just visited. Italy is a very friendly culture. As he points out in the book it is also a place which boasts wonderful food and wines! We will be visiting Italy again I hope!
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LibraryThing member lrobe190
Quarterback, Rick Dockery, manages to ruin his team's chances to play in the Superbowl and becomes totally unemployable in the NFL. His manager finds him a spot as a quarterback for the Parma Panthers in Italy. Rick desperately wants to continue playing football, so he accepts. Initially skeptical
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of the quality of Italian pro-football, Rick learns to love the game and the players as well as the country. I enjoyed this book overall. It was a little too full of football jargon, but it's hard not to end up loving Grisham's descriptions of Italy and the people there. The book is short and entertaining.
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LibraryThing member mojomomma
Nice, light happy story about a third-string, washed-up, NFL quarterback who is nearing the end of his career. When he loses the AFC title game by throwing a series of interceptions his agent finds him a job with the Parma, Italy Panthers. Despite his misgivings, he heads for Italy and finds
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redemption and re-discovers his love of football.”
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LibraryThing member maggiereads
Alright readers, get your pom-poms ready, because I’m about to lead a cheer for John Grisham’s new book Playing for Pizza. “Give me an ‘F’!” “Give me a ‘U’!” “Give me an ‘N’!” “What do ya got?” FUN! “I can’t hear you!” FUN!

That’s right, Grisham’s new book
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is nothing but fun. Matter of fact, it is the perfect little read during the week while one waits for Grisham’s Alma Mata, Ole Miss, to kick-off a Saturday football game. What am I thinking? One only has two weekdays to read if he is a real football fanatic, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Our story opens with 28-year-old Rick Dockery lying in a hospital bed not really sure just how he got there. This confusion makes his agent, Arnie, a bit nervous. Over Rick’s lackluster football career this makes his third concussion—and one is usually one too many—in the NFL.

Arnie retells the story as Rick notices his head throbbing more and more with each sentence. Apparently, third-stringer Rick was called on the field to replace the second Browns’ quarterback to sustain injuries in the Cleveland Browns versus Denver Broncos match-up. This play-off game is all but won as Browns fans begin to head towards the parking lot.

As Rick accepts the snap, the Browns are up by 17 points with only 11 minutes left in the game. Have you ever played the game, “7 Minutes in Heaven?” Well, for Rick this is 11 minutes in the opposite direction as the ball is intercepted three separate times for unbelievable Bronco touchdowns.

Arnie has more bad news. First, Browns manager, Whacker, called while Rick was in his coma to fire him. Second, no one, not even his parents have sent flowers or get well cards. Last, an angry group of drunken fans have staged yell-ins directed at the quarterback’s hospital window for a week.

Hiding in the hospital, Rick is left with only two options; essentially, quit football altogether or play for the Parma Panthers in Parma, Italy. Who? Where?

Arnie’s worked the phones daily while Rick recovered for another NFL contract, but things have been brutal. Even the Denver Broncos-heading to the Super Bowl thanks to Rick-laugh at his offer. The Parma Panthers are the only agreeable team. Their offer, a whopping $20,000 plus room, car, and all the pasta one ex-NFLer can eat.

So, before the next tailgate party, what will you do? “Read! Read! READ!”
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LibraryThing member poolays
I loved this book! Not at all like most Grisham novels. It is delightful. I don't like football much, but I love Italy, and I loved the food and the wine, and the people. A quick read, fun.
LibraryThing member corbinb
I liked it. It was a quick read and very unGrisham like. I love football so maybe that is why I enjoyed it.
I loved how he described the food and the wine so much that I would often have a glass of wine and some cheese while I was reading it.
LibraryThing member lincroft
It was ok. Fast read. I learned there was football in Italy.
LibraryThing member CoraJoanBurgett
Rick Dockery was the third-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. With a 17-point lead and minutes to go, Rick had the worst single performance in the history of the NFL. Overnight, he became a national laughintstock and was immediatly cut by the Browns. His agent, Arnie finds a team that
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needs him: the mighty Panthers of Parma, Italy.He knows nothing about Parma, has never been to Italy & doesn't speak a word of Italian. Ital and "football americana" holds a few surprise for Rick. And that would be an understatement.
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LibraryThing member savageknight
You might find this hard to believe, but this is the first Grisham novel I've ever read. Having worked in a law firm for 5 years, I've never been one to want to keep revisiting that lifetime so although I would sometimes watch movies, I wasn't interested in the books.

Playing for Pizza was referred
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to me by a co-worker who thought I'd get a kick out of it and when he explained the premise, I agreed. And I loved it!

Sometimes it's just great to read a book with "just a story" in it. No high-drama, no high-crime... just a good, fun, and relaxing read. For me, PfP was it. I loved reading about how it took being completed ripped from his element and tossed into a whole new culture and experience for the main character (Rick Dockery) to find himself, to find his "way"... to give him a sense of belonging. Of course, being Italian myself, the joy and wonder I experienced while "walking" around Parma and experiencing it through Ricky (or Livvy's) eyes was just wonderful.

I thought all the characters were very well fleshed out and "real" and I looked forward to every chapter to find out what they were all up to. The interactions on and off the football field were well interwoven giving the reader a sense of being involved (as opposed to simply being an observer)

I'm not certain how die-hard Grisham fans will feel about this book, but for me it was a very satisfying read. In fact, if I find this book in a used bookstore, I will purchase my own copy because it's the kind of book I could see myself re-reading and relaxing to.
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