Friday, April 4, 2008

It’s Not a Mystery

A Short Review: Playing for Pizza

by Charlie Leck

I told you within the last couple of weeks that I had read all of John Grisham’s twenty books. Turns out I hadn’t. I found out that a little novel he wrote in 2006, Playing for Pizza, had somehow escaped me. I saw it sitting in a bookstore and was rather surprised by it. I paid too much for it and took it home to read.

Right at the beginning, you must understand that this is not a mystery as 17 of his other novels are. That’s just a warning to mystery readers that they might not want to read this one.

Another warning to everyone else is that you probably won’t like this particular book if you’re not a fan of professional football. You probably will like it, however, if you are such a fan and if you also wouldn’t mind learning a great deal about Italy – especially Parma (the home of Parmesan Cheese).

The book’s only redeeming quality is that it does such a good job in describing Parma and some of Italy’s other small cities. I actually got hungry a few times while reading various sections of the book because Grisham does such a terrific job in describing some of the great dishes of Parma.

The character descriptions are strong in this work and nearly everyone was pretty likeable. Its weakness is the story itself. The plot is thin and the story is kind of sappy – though, I’ll say again, the die-hard football fan will probably like it.

Grisham, as those of you who read him know very well, is a story teller. He has a good imagination and a good sense of describing settings and places. He does all of that well in this little novel, but the problem is that it just isn’t that great a story.

Am I sorry I read it? Not at all! I’m just sorry I paid about twenty bucks for it. Whatever you do, don’t make the same mistake. Get it from your library. You can get through this one in just a lazy afternoon.

[Read a Washington Post review of Playing for Pizza]

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