BREAKFAST WITH BUDDHA
Algonquin Books, October 2007
Otto Ringling is a straightlaced publishing executive with two kids, a lovely wife, a fine home in a fancy New York suburb, and a nagging suspicion that something's missing. How, then, does he end up on traveling through Middle America with a berobed Mongolian monk? The real question to ask is, Why?
When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto, 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 he's missing in the most unexpected place.
"Recommended... Enlightenment meets On the Road in this witty, insightful novel."
– Boston Sunday Globe
"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 a quiet, meditative, and ultimately joyous trip we're on."
– Boston Globe
"Funny, easy and wonderful. The writing is lovely... ...Despite the title, it isn't really about Buddhism; it's more a nondenominational spiritual encounter, with the monk quoting from all the major holy books...I completely, thoroughly and absolutely loved it. It is just so special! As I was reading it, I felt so lucky to have found it. I'm comparing it to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and my favorite book last year, Eat, Pray, Love. This may turn out to be my favorite book this year!"
– Record Courier
"Please don't be put off when I describe this pleasant, engaging novel as a sermon. I got to liking Breakfast with Buddha more and more as I went along and was very sorry when it ended. On finishing this book, I decided that Roland Merullo would be a great guy to take a road trip with."
– Washington Post
"Merullo delivers a comic but winningly spiritual road trip novel... A satisfying read. A set piece of Otto's chaotic first meditation session is notably hilarious, and the whole book is breezy and affecting."
– Publishers Weekly