Here is classic Merullo. Master of the road-trip narrative, he has reached new heights here by employing The Pope and the Dalai Lama as two of his main characters, men of tremendous wisdom and intellectual power thrust into the daily life of Italy. This exposes not only their goodness but their innocence, in ways that are often hilarious. Merullo thickens the plot with the story of estranged spouses, (one of whom keeps persistently reminding me of Sophia Loren) and a haunting sense of history.
The Delight of Being Ordinary is essentially comic, but like all of Merullo’s writing the seeming lightness has a philosophical base that is, if unobtrusive, deeply felt and deftly handled. He sees in various religions a certain stubbornness that inhibits cooperation and leads to ugliness. He believes that the world is improvable. Atheists like me might remain unconvinced of the validity of the story’s aspirations, but there is never any doubt about the authenticity of character and of thought, and the honesty of the writer.
And there are real surprises. Roland Merullo can spin a tale and make it twist as well as any writer around, and he can do this without losing his reader’s respect. Surprises a firmly grounded in the plot and yet stunningly unexpected.
Fans of his very successful Buddha series will find themselves very much at home in this new venture.
This is a road trip, and as such demands that the writer know the territory –Italy in this case—and, for depth, know the past of that territory. Here this novel seems to be the result of a great deal of research and personal experience. Anyone interested in Italy, its current wonders and its somewhat less than wonderful past will enjoy this novel it only as a travelogue.
Merullo is no cynic; he is really no ironist either. I guess that’s what keeps his fine writing off the pages of some sophisticated reviewers. But he is a great story teller, a brilliant creator of character, and his books always return at least double the reader’s investment in the currencies of pure enjoyment and moral stimulation.
- Publisher: Random House US
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780385542470
- ISBN-13: 978-0385542470
- ASIN: 038554247X
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 5.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 399 g
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