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Bowl of Cherriesby Millard Kaufman
Synopses & Reviews
The brilliant creation of ninety-year-old debut novelist Millard Kaufman, co-creator of Mr. Magoo and twice-nominated for Academy Awards for screenwriting, Bowl of Cherries rivals the liveliest comic epics for giddy wordplay and gleeful invention.
Kicked out of Yale at the age of fourteen, Judd Breslau falls in with Phillips Chatterton, a bathrobe-wearing Egyptologist working out of a dilapidated home laboratory. Entranced by Chatterton's daughter, Valerie, Breslau abandons his studies and decides to move in with the eccentric scientist and assist with research. But the work is not what Judd had thought and, mesmerized by Valerie, Breslau follows her to a number of strange locales — a secret attic in her father's home, a Colorado equestrian ranch, and a porn studio beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Judd ultimately makes his way to the forlorn Iraqi province of Assama, ending up in a jail cell from which he narrates the novel, awaiting his execution while war rages on around him.
Kaufman's debut is a book of astounding breadth and sharp consequences, containing all the joy, madness, terror, and doubt of adolescence and everything after.
"Nonagenarian Kaufman — twice nominated for screenwriting Oscars in the 1950s and a co-creator of Mr. Magoo — makes his fiction debut with this irresistible comic novel, a bawdy, original coming-of-age tale. Kaufman brings bright, resourceful Judd Breslau to vivid life, giving him a striving nature that always leads to trouble. After dropping out of Yale at 14, Judd moves into the crumbling mansion of nut-job Egyptologist Phillips Chatterton, where he joins a phalanx of oddball thinkers working on a quixotic project to redesign human society. A fringe benefit is Chatterton's daughter, Valerie, over whom Judd goes ga-ga. Both Judd and Valerie end up in New York, where Judd interviews with a shady corporation seeking a revolting economic opportunity in war-torn Iraq. So it's off to the hilariously backwards Coproliabad, where Judd runs afoul of the new sheikh, who wants Valerie for his queen. In fact, Judd, awaiting execution, narrates the whole book from a fetid jail cell. Kaufman's screwball sensibility, relish for language, gleeful vulgarism and deep sympathy for his characters make this novel an unprecedented joyride. Whether it's due to his being alive for 90 years or not, Kaufman's book is shot through with worldly wit and a keen sense of the humor in human foibles." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Reminiscent of Christopher Moore's fantastic fiction, this work includes quite a cast of quirky characters and unbelievable sequence of strange events that keep the story intriguing and perhaps also illustrates the turbulence of growing up." Library Journal
"[S]harp and strange, unlike anything else you'll read this year." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"A deliriously funny first novel.... It's a suspenseful, hyper and strange work, with a flurry of abrupt cautions administered like literary shock therapy." San Francisco Chronicle
Kaufman's comic imagination...reminds one of those young'uns Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller.... Kaufman [is] reportedly working away on a second novel. Please, nobody distract him." Washington Post
Ninety-year-old Kaufman — twice nominated for screenwriting Oscars in the 1950s and a co-creator of Mr. Magoo — makes his fiction debut with this irresistible comic novel, a bawdy, original coming-of-age tale.
About the Author
Kaufman is a successful screenwriter/producer with Academy Award nominations for his screenplays. In addition, he is the creator of Mr. Magoo and has taught screenwriting at USC, UCLA, and the Sundance Institute.
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