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
[Kaufman] is a wildly imaginative and funny writer
an ageless author who is ripe for a new audience.” Los Angeles Times
Equal parts Catcher in the Rye and Die Hard.” The New Yorker
Kaufmans screwball sensibility, relish for language, gleeful vulgarism, and deep sympathy for his characters make this novel an unprecedented joyride.” Publishers Weekly
A smart, zany comedy . . . That weird incongruity between highbrow/lowbrow humor is only part of what makes Bowl of Cherries so irresistible. Kaufman's comic imagination, his ability to mix things scatological and historical, political and philosophical, reminds one of those young'uns Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller. The ridiculous slapstick in Assama is straight from Woody Allen's Don't Drink the Water, and a cameo appearance by a goofy President Bush will take you back to Dr. Strangelove. But Kaufman seems to have more heart than those '60s satirists; his precocious young hero pulls on our sympathies even as he trudges on through absurdity.” Ron Charles, Washington Post
Kaufman doesn't disappoint, and his narrative is infused with . . . wisdom and whimsy . . . Kaufman exudes a vitality that novelists half his age would envy.” Baltimore Magazine
The ninety year olds inquisitiveness and tenacity shine brightly within the novel, in which he weaves words more impressively than a spider spins a web.” Rocky Mountain Chronicle
Bowl of Cherries reads like a picaresque Kurt Vonnegut farce narrated by Augie March . . . The descriptions of Judd's troubled upbringing and the world of higher education are as gorgeously blooming as his carnal adventures are funny . . . a knowing satire of the American lust for recognition at any cost.” Baltimore City Paper
A freewheeling comedy that careens from a Colorado horse ranch to an Iraqi prison to a porn studio underneath the Brooklyn Bridge . . . Bowl of Cherries is the work of a writer unshackled, finally able to use vocabulary and structure verboten in Hollywood.” Rolling Stone
When you read Bowl of Cherries, you will know that this writer is a reader . . . the modus operandi of this book is to find a way to laugh at anything . . . I havent had this kind of fun in a long time.” Michael Silverblatt, KCRW Bookworm
Make no mistake, Bowl of Cherries is crass, offensive and overblown, but its portrait of a world driven mad by greed and hucksterism, miracle cures and imperialist agendas stumbles smack into its share of worthy targets.” Jewish Daily Forward
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.