By J.F. Pandolfi
Publisher: L&A Publications
Publication Date: August 3, 2018
Genre: Mainstream Fiction
Most people make at least one really harebrained decision in their life. Just ask Tony Piza. Deciding he needs a “paid vacation” for a year after college, Tony lands a job teaching at a Catholic elementary school. Talk about the Moby Dick of miscalculations. His pathetic effort is making him look bad, crimping his love life, and leaving him feeling guilty. A new approach, fueled by his irreverent humor, makes him a hit with his students. But it riles the powers that be. A showdown seems inevitable. Whether he can survive it—well, that’s something else.
He did have to admit, though, that Monsignor Lombardo cut a striking figure. He was a handsome man, slim, with manicured silver hair, and he wore his black cassock and purple sash well. Rimless glasses conveyed the suggestion of intellectual depth. Many of the women had preened when he entered, including some of the nuns.
The priest reminded Piza of the television personality Bishop Fulton Sheen, whose show his mother never missed when it aired in the 1950s. The bishop had a powerful, melodic voice, and was a bona fide Catholic superstar. The comparison to Bishop Sheen hit a wall as soon as Monsignor Lombardo began to speak.
“Thank you, Mother John,” he rasped.
Holy crap! It’s Vito Corleone in disguise.
He would later learn the priest’s gravelly delivery was the result of years of chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes, a vice allegedly on equal footing with his partiality to single malt scotch.
“It’s a pleasure to be here with all of you today,” the Godfather said.
Considering how flat his students had been after the four-day Thanksgiving recess, Piza surmised they might be borderline catatonic returning after Christmas. To his surprise, they were remarkably upbeat.
Once they finished settling in, Sukie McDermott raised her hand. “So, Mr. Piza, did you miss us?”
“Hmm. Depends on what you mean by ‘miss’. If you mean was I locked in my room every day, weeping while I clutched the class photo to my heart, then the answer would be no.” Laughter. “If, however, you mean am I happy to see you guys, that would also be a no.” His grin elicited another laugh.
J. F. Pandolfi went to Fordham University as an undergrad, then taught at a Catholic elementary school before attending Fordham Law School.
Practicing law certainly had its moments, but to call it "utter euphoria"—well, that was a stretch. Plus, the voices that had taken up residency in his head (rent-free, the deadbeats) kept insisting that he share his writing with the world. An award for his flash fiction piece, "Psychology for Dummies", convinced him that the voices might be on to something. And so he called upon his fond memories as a teacher, which served as a backdrop to his debut novel, "Mr. Pizza".
J. F. also briefly believed he had won the New York City Marathon. Alas, it turned out to be a dream, apparently brought on by an acute case of restless leg syndrome.
A staunch supporter of the fight to eradicate adult illiteracy, J. F. was accorded a Special Recognition in Literacy Award for his efforts.
From one bookaholic to another, I hope I’ve helped you find your next fix.
Have a book you’d like to suggest or one you’d like me to review? Please feel free to leave your comments down below.