Synopses & Reviews
The only thing certain about a journey is that it has a beginning and an end—for you never know what may happen along the way. And so it is with this journey into the minds and souls of two very different men—one of them in search of the truth, the other a man who may have already found it.
When Otto Ringling, a husband, father, and editor, departs on a cross-country drive from his home in a New York City suburb to the North Dakota farmhouse in which he grew up, he is a man on a no-nonsense mission: to settle the estate of his recently deceased parents. However, when his flaky sister convinces him to give a ride to her guru, a crimson-robed Skovordinian monk, Otto knows there will be a few bumps in the road.
As they venture across America, Otto and the affable, wise, irritating, and inscrutible holy man engage in a battle of wits and wisdom. Otto, a born skeptic, sees his unwanted passenger as a challenge: a man who assumes the knowledge of the ages yet walks a mortal's path. But he also sees their unexpected pairing as an opportunity to take Volya Rinpoche on a journey of cultural discovery, with visits to quintessentially American landmarks (the Hershey's factory, Wrigley Field) and forays into some favorite American pastimes (bowling, miniature golf, dining out).
It is Otto, however, who has embarked on the real journey, that of self-discovery, led by his strange and remarkable passenger. By the time they reach North Dakota, Otto's head is reeling with the understanding that so much of what he had believed—as well as so much of what he had doubted—must be rethought before his journey can truly begin.
Witty and inventive, Breakfast with Buddha takes readers into the heart of America and in the process shows us a man about to discover his own true heart.
"Merullo writes with grace and intelligence and knows that even in a novel of ideas it's not the religion that matters, it's the relationship; it's not the concepts, but the people, and here are two intriguing men, one with his eye on the destination and his foot on the pedal, the other who knows that we travel farthest when we are still. You'll enjoy sitting in the back seat of the car as Otto drives on deep into the luminous heart of his childhood. It's a quiet, meditative, and ultimately joyous trip we're on. And it's quite a treat, indeed, to eavesdrop on these two inquisitive and witty gentlemen and hear what they talk about when they talk about life."—Boston Globe Providence Journal
A "pleasant, engaging novel . . . I got to liking Breakfast With Buddha more and more as I went along and was very sorry when it ended . . . it's such a sweet formula! . . . On finishing this book, I decided that Roland Merullo would be a great guy to take a road trip with."--Carolyn See of the Washington Post Carolyn See
"The skillful Merullo, using the lightest of touches, slowly turns this low-key comedy into a moving story of spiritual awakening."--Booklist The Washington Post
"Roland Merullo . . .is such an immediately engaging author (Revere Beach Elegy, A Little Love Story, Golfing With God) that you're sucked right into his world. He's so warm-spirited, conversational and seemingly unrushed — an art that's harder to achieve than it looks — that you're off and running without a second thought. . . . This is a wonderful, heartfelt novel that frequently surprises as we're lulled by the sights and sounds of the open road"--Providence Journal Booklist
"Merullo's other novels have explored life on Earth in insightful, amusing, loving ways, avoiding clichés or ponderous declarations about the human condition. Breakfast with Buddha, loosely based on a road trip Merullo took without a monk companion, is no exception."-- Seattle Times Christian Science Monitor
"The lessons imparted are neither new nor startling (live fully in the moment, etc.), but Merullo eloquently conveys their simple power....Spiritual fiction is a byway little traveled by mainstream authors, but Merullo has grown so persuasive over the course of two luminous little novels that readers might well follow him even if he turned next to, say, Mornings with Mohammed."
—Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews
"[Merullo's] gift is slipping gentle spiritual lessons into easy-reading narratives...with such effortless charm."--The Christian Science Monitor Seattle Times
"A wonderful, heartfelt novel that frequently surprises as we're lulled by the sights and sounds of the open road"--Providence Journal Seattle Times
"A laugh-out loud novel that's both comical and wise...balancing irreverence with insight."--The Louisville Courier-Journal Providence Journal
"Insightful, amusing, loving...There are lovely moments of enlightenment that are not accompanied by angels with flaming swords; rather, there is that peaceful blue sphere that is available to all of us."--The Seattle Times Louisville Courier Journal
"Enlightenment meets On the Road in this witty, insightful novel."--The Boston Sunday Globe Christian Science Monitor
When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused. Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he'd planned. But in an effort to westernize his passenger—and amuse himself—he decides to show the monk some "American fun" along the way. From a chocolate factory in Hershey to a bowling alley in South Bend, from a Cubs game at Wrigley field to his family farm near Bismarck, Otto is given the remarkable opportunity to see his world—and more important, his life—through someone else's eyes. Gradually, skepticism yields to amazement as he realizes that his companion might just be the real thing.
In Roland Merullo's masterful hands, Otto tells his story with all the wonder, bemusement, and wry humor of a man who unwittingly finds what he's missing in the most unexpected place.
About the Author
Roland Merullo, is the critically acclaimed author of seven books, including the Revere Beach Trilogy, three novels about growing up in a tight-knit community outside Boston, and Golfing with God, a novel about a man's unexpected spiritual journey. He lives with his wife and two daughters in eastern Massachusetts.