Monday, May 4, 2009

Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo

3 Stars
R- 2

"Enlightenment meets On the Road in this witty, insightful novel." --The Boston Sunday Globe

Um, sure. I guess.

Insightful, sure. Probably would have been more so if I'd stayed awake, but to be honest, I kept falling asleep on this one. And it took a lot longer to read than 320 pages normally takes me.

Confession- I skimmed pretty much the whole 320 pages. Well, skimmed in so far as my CDO brain lets me. (That's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, only alphabetically as it should be.)

When Otto Ringling arranges to drive to North Dakota to settle his parents' estate, he's expecting to spend the time with his flighty, flaky sister. But no. She's sending her guru with him instead. Thus Otto spends a crazy week learning from this "almost Buddhist" and showing him all things America along the way.

The author's note says that this is somewhat based on an actual roadtrip he took... I think I may have liked it better if it had been a memoir instead of a novel.

It's supposed to make you think, I guess. And while I agreed with many of the philosophies presented, I don't know, I guess it's just that I don't read novels for self-analysis. If I want that, I'll read self-help or religious texts, philosophy, history... or better yet, the scriptures. Not really what I'm looking for in a novel, though.

And then I feel shallow and guilty for not embracing the introspection, taking up yoga, and devoting part of each day to meditation. Which is silly, but then I start to feel rather cranky, like the guilt trip is calculated. I am not a fan of heading off on guilt trips.

And then I feel cranky about society's insistence that we should all be tolerant of everything, go green, support local small businesses, and we'll feel so much better about ourselves and save the world in the bargain. And yet this beautiful view of tolerance doesn't seem to allow for me to just keep plugging along, doing the best I can. Which makes me feel guilty, which makes me cranky...

You can see where this is going, right? It's a downward spiral, I tell you.

Maybe there's just something wrong with the wiring in my brain, but why does it seem like all these things that are supposed to make you feel better about yourself are really calculated to make you feel worse?

I have the same trouble with the make-up industry... don't get me started. ("You can't be flawless, but you can come close if you buy our complete line of skin care products." At least that Phineas and Ferb episode points out that they're making people feel worse in order to make money.)


Sorry about the rant. The book was okay. More or less. Some of the philosophy was great. I guess I just wasn't in the mood.

I think I need more sleep. ;)