The Angry Buddhist

The Angry Buddhist

3.4 5
by Seth Greenland
     
 

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Seth Greenland's timely new novel is set in the high California desert between the trailer parks and amphetamine labs of Desert Hot Springs and the classic mid-century architecture of Palm Springs. In this sun-blasted territory, with its equally arid social culture, a fiercely contested congressional election is in progress. The wily incumbent, Randall Duke, is…  See more details below

Overview

Seth Greenland's timely new novel is set in the high California desert between the trailer parks and amphetamine labs of Desert Hot Springs and the classic mid-century architecture of Palm Springs. In this sun-blasted territory, with its equally arid social culture, a fiercely contested congressional election is in progress. The wily incumbent, Randall Duke, is unburdened by ethical considerations. His opponent, Mary Swain, a sexy, well-financed newcomer, does not have a firm grip on American history or elemental economics.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Angry Buddhist is a great novel. It's satirical, it's political, it's sexual. All the things that I love dearly. Finally, something to come home to."

—Larry David

THE SMALL, DRY TOWNS that lead eastward from Los Angeles to Indio, across the lap of California, form an island chain in a sea of sand, each with its own biome and yet each enough like the other to form, in aggregate, one place. The chain is a kind of Galapagos, easily isolated by its natural isolation, and ripe for study. It is in this insular region that The Angry Buddhist, Los Angeles writer Seth Greenland's third novel, operates, studying closely the evolutionary winners and losers of the area. But of course any region, even a solidly organized body such as that grassy monolith, the American Midwest, is never really just one place. There are subtleties and shadings visible only to those with adapted eyes, and it is those subtleties that Greenland crafts into a wild social farce, dependent on fine distinctions...
It is the human extremes that are Greenland's subject, and he captures the high and low end with a crafty gaze. He begins, logically, at the center, where there is plenty of shelter.

—Alison Powell (LA Review of Books)

This idea — that messy and inept human striving is the best producer of plot — recalls the recent fictive universes of Elmore Leonard, Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers (lords of anarchy, all of them, and, I'd venture, influences here). This novel is Greenland's third, after "The Bones" and "Shining City," and it's easily his most ambitious.

Some one-liners still come off sounding too glib and cute (a young reporter "looks like she studied at the Victoria's Secret School of Journalism" and "Guilt is as pointless as the Pope in Tel Aviv"), but it's better to stuff in too many jokes than avoid them altogether. In any event, Greenland does bring more serious themes into play. The big issue, explored through the questing character of Jimmy Duke, is: "how is it possible to practice non-attachment if you have a moral perspective on the world?"

Novelists too need to be nimble, and "The Angry Buddhist" is a wild entertainment as well as a novel about the way we live now that dares to dance with the profound.

—Richard Rayner (LA Times)

"Profundity can be found in the strangest places," DharmaGirl counsels. "Everyone makes fun of fortune cookies. I don't know why."

"The Angry Buddhist" approaches all its characters with reliable misanthropy (not for nothing does Larry David provide this book's most visible blurb). And its story unfolds with dexterous ease. Even a minor figure like Hard's wife, Vonda Jean, who wears "an expression as nurturing as an oil spill" and always leaves the television on "so she'll have something else to listen to in the event Hard starts talking," is made funny and sharp. The book's women are more cartoonish than its men. But the competition is pretty fierce.

"The Angry Buddhist" makes a fine high-end beach read for election season. But, perhaps surprisingly, the least interesting story element in "The Angry Buddhist" is the anonymous political blogger who provides a running commentary on campaign issues. The blogger tethers this otherwise escapist fable to real life.

—Janet Maslin (New York Times)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781609458867
Publisher:
Europa
Publication date:
04/24/2012
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
795,828
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Seth Greenland is the author of the novels The Bones and Shining City. His first play, Jungle Rot, was the winner of the Kennedy Center/American Express Fund for New American Plays Award, the American Theater Critics Association Award and anthologized in Best American Plays. He was a writer-producer on the Emmy-nominated HBO series Big Love and one of the original bloggers on the Huffington Post. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the literary journal Black Clock. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

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The Angry Buddhist 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This oh-so-au courant political satire is VERY well -written. The author has the additional advantage of possessing a working knowledge of both Buddhism and American politics. It's hilarious and a bit frivolous, but you can devour it with good conscience -- sort of like an organic chocolate chip cookie. --catwak
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Funny and bitter gets old after a while. A couple of words are misused and some others misspelled. But the Buddhist part feels real.
LoveToReadnWrite More than 1 year ago
This is a delightful book to read; it's fun, and well-executed. It skewers our current American politics - admittedly a beckoning target - in a way that is true, hilarious, and oddly warm-hearted. The title character is learning the tenets of mindfulness to deal with his temper (he wants to wring the neck of his anger-management counselor) and actually develops wisdom as he wends his way through the serpentine twists of plot. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago