Lunch with Buddha

( 5 )

Overview

On the surface, LUNCH WITH BUDDHA is a story about family. Otto Ringling and his sister Cecelia could not be more different. He's just turned 50, an editor of food books at a prestigious New York publishing house, a man with a nice home in the suburbs, children he adores, and a sense of himself as being a mainstream, upper-middle-class American. Cecelia is the last thing from mainstream. For two decades she's made a living reading palms and performing past-life regressions. She believes firmly in our ability to ...
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Lunch with Buddha

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Overview

On the surface, LUNCH WITH BUDDHA is a story about family. Otto Ringling and his sister Cecelia could not be more different. He's just turned 50, an editor of food books at a prestigious New York publishing house, a man with a nice home in the suburbs, children he adores, and a sense of himself as being a mainstream, upper-middle-class American. Cecelia is the last thing from mainstream. For two decades she's made a living reading palms and performing past-life regressions. She believes firmly in our ability to communicate with those who have passed on.

It will turn out, though, that they have more in common than just their North Dakota roots.

In LUNCH WITH BUDDHA, when Otto faces what might be the greatest of life's difficulties, it is Cecelia who knows how to help him. As she did years earlier in this book's predecessor, BREAKFAST WITH BUDDHA, she arranges for her brother to travel with Volya Rinpoche, a famous spiritual teacher - who now also happens to be her husband.

After early chapters in which the family gathers for an important event, the novel portrays a road trip made by Otto and Rinpoche, in a rattling pickup, from Seattle to the family farm in North Dakota. Along the way the brothers-in-law have a series of experiences - some hilarious, some poignant - all aimed at bringing Otto a deeper peace of mind. They visit American landmarks; they have a variety of meals, both excellent and awful; they meet a cast of minor characters, each of whom enables Rinpoche to impart some new spiritual lesson. Their conversations range from questions about life and death to talk of history, marijuana, child-rearing, sexuality, Native Americans, and outdoor swimming.

In the end, with the help of their miraculous daughter, Shelsa, and the prodding of Otto's own almost-adult children, Rinpoche and Cecelia push this decent, middle-of-the-road American into a more profound understanding of the purpose of his life. His sense of the line between possible and impossible is altered, and the story's ending points him toward a very different way of being in this world.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In this engaging follow-up novel (Breakfast With Buddha, 2008), Merullo takes readers on a spiritual road trip through the American West. Otto Ringling is a successful New York City editor who has built a happy, comfortable life with his family in the suburbs. But when his wife, Jeannie, dies, Otto's entire orbit is suddenly thrown off course. Along with his two college-aged children, his New-Age sister Cecelia, her eccentric, sort-of Buddhist husband and guru, Volya Rinpoche, and their enlightened 6-year-old daughter, Otto finds himself in the forests of Washington to spread his wife's ashes. On the way back to the family farm in North Dakota, Otto rides alone with Volya--a reprise of the trip the two took in Breakfast With Buddha--in a beat-up pickup truck. Together, they traverse the mountainous West, Otto teaches Volya about American culture--including food, water parks, marijuana and transvestites--and Volya teaches Otto how to let go. Otto is frustrated and often angry. While he has embraced some of Volya's teachings--and has even tried his hand at meditation and yoga--his wife's death has left him bitter, skeptical and confused. But he does his best to keep an open mind: He listens to Volya, even when his sweet, wise and goofy companion says little; he asks questions, even when he knows that the answers will most likely elude him. In Otto Ringling, Merullo offers readers a hero that's a bit jaded but loving; a little lost but searching. One can't help but root for Otto, despite--or perhaps because of--his curmudgeonly tendencies, and hope that he finds the inner peace that, even if he doesn't quite know it, he desperately seeks. While there are a few flat notes--a handful of too-convenient circumstances to help Otto along his path to clearer consciousness and some distracting references to too-current events (the Obama/Biden campaign, tumult in Syria) that pluck the narrative from its otherwise timeless path--Merullo's is a beautifully written and compelling story about a man's search for meaning that earnestly and accessibly tackles some well-trodden but universal questions. A quiet meditation on life, death, darkness and spirituality, sprinkled with humor, tenderness and stunning landscapes.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780984834563
  • Publisher: PFP Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/28/2012
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Roland Merullo is an awarding-winning author of 14 books including 10 works of fiction. Breakfast with Buddha, a nominee for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, is now in its 14th printing. The Talk-Funny Girl was a 2012 ALEX Award Winner and named a “Must Read for 2012” by the Massachusetts Library Association and the Massachusetts Center for the Book; Revere Beach Boulevard was named one of the “Top 100 Essential Books of New England” by The Boston Globe, A Little Love Story was named one of “Ten Wonderful Romance Novels” by Good Housekeeping and Revere Beach Elegy won the Massachusetts Book Award for non fiction.

A former writer in residence at North Shore Community College and Miami Dade Colleges, and professor of Creative Writing at Bennington and Amherst Colleges, Merullo has been a guest speaker at many literary events and venues and a faculty member at MFA programs and several writers’ conferences. His essays have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, Outside Magazine, Yankee Magazine, Newsweek, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Magazine, Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. His books have been translated into German, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean and Croatian.

Roland Merullo lives in western Massachusetts with his wife and two daughters.

For additional information, please visit:
www.rolandmerullo.com or www.lunchwithbuddha.com
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    Best book I have read in past year! Highly recommend.

    I fell love with the characters especially Rinpoche. Wonderful
    Story about relationships and getting to know our inner self.
    Liked the humor and wisdom. I enjoyed Breakfast with Buddha so
    I knew this was a must read when I saw the title and author on the
    New releases. Roland Merullo's books are among my favorites for
    Reading. This book would be a good choice for a book club
    Discussion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2013

    Most enjoyable

    I loved breakfast and lunch and now I am waiting for dinner... great author!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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