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Just about everyone makes a really off-the-wall decision at some point. Usually it’s no big deal. But if it ends up changing people’s lives. . .
It’s 1973, and Tony Piza (long “i”, my friends) decides he needs a carefree year off after college—with pay.
To the shock of his tight-knit family and closest friends, he postpones law school and talks his way into a job teaching sixth grade at a Catholic school in Staten Island, N. Y.
A paid vacation if ever there was one! Yeah, right.
Say hi to the Moby Dick of miscalculations. His pathetic effort is making him look bad, especially compared to the other sixth-grade instructor, Sister Theresa, an energetic young nun whose sunny disposition could have turned Attila the Hun into a daisy-picking philanthropist.
It’s also crimping his efforts to enchant Colleen O’Brien, a stunning, straight-talking teacher who sees right through him.
To make matters worse, his irreverent sense of humor antagonizes the powers-that-be: the alpha-male president of the school board, and the pastor who’s more interested in single malt scotch than saving souls.
Does he have the ability—or the desire—to turn things around to try to save his job? And will he ever realize that his students deserve a lot more than they’ve been getting from him?
A Self-Interview with J.F. Pandolfi
Me: Thank you for agreeing to sit down with yourself.
JF: My pleasure. Yours too, I guess.
Me: Is it true you spent your formative years herding goats in the mountains of Sicily?
JF: Yes. No wait . . . that was someone else. My bad.
Me: No problem. You taught after college, then went to law school, correct? But you don’t practice anymore?
JF: Correct. I went into law after teaching at a Catholic elementary school. The law had its moments, but it wasn’t exactly utter euphoria. Plus, the voices residing in my head (rent-free, the deadbeats) kept insisting I share my love of writing with the world. So I changed my life path.
Me: Voices? Really?
JF: What, like you don’t hear them? Gimme a break.
Me: Touché. But were the voices right? About the writing?
JF: Well, winning an award for my flash fiction piece, Psychology for Dummies, convinced me that they might be on to something. So now I’ve called upon the fond memories of my teaching days, and written my debut novel, Mr. Pizza.
Me: You were once overheard telling people that you won the New York City Marathon. But I couldn’t find any proof of that.
JF: At the time, I truly believed I did. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an illusion, apparently brought on by an acute episode of Restless Leg Syndrome.
Me: Regarding your photo on the left there, it’s hard to read your facial expression. Not sure what look you were going for, but I’m sensing an undercurrent of anger. Are you angry by nature?
JF: Shut up.
Me: Okay then. Well, this has been something less than productive, so let’s call it a wrap.
JF: Yeah, let’s . . . ingrate.
“A poignant yet humor-laden page turner, ‘Mr. Pizza’ . . . is the kind of story where the reader feels sad to reach the end.”
- V. Sola -
“. . .I’m a five-time literary contest honoree—who is now envious of Pandolfi’s writing skill.”
- E.J. Rand -