Josh's Reviews > Bowl of Cherries

Bowl of Cherries by Millard Kaufman
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Jan 07, 2008

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Read in April, 2008

I liked this book quite a bit. It's very impressive for a 90 year old first time novelist. At times I feel like Kaufman has a difficult time speaking in the language of youth in today's culture. Judd, the protagonist, doesn't exactly talk like Juno. In fact, were it not for the inclusion of the war in Iraq and a scene with a bumbling misspoken president, I would think this book could be 30 years old. But, in the long run, Kaufman makes the young characters work by sticking to this same timelessness.


The book is filled with strange characters, and is rich in sharp satire of Americans, politics, and academia. Yet, the book never reaches the heights of hilarity. The depiction of George Bush seems to be a depiction of an impersonator's George Bush, so unbelievable that satire goes out the window.

Kaufman does show a keen sense for the feeling of youth, which to me seems very timely, but I am sure is nothing new. Judd is very intelligent, but admittedly unambitious, and just follows along with where he is told he is supposed to go. To college. To a PHD program. To research in Baltimore. To work on a farm in Colorado. To run errands in New York. And finally to try and steal the secret of making bricks from human feces in a province in Iraq, where he ends up sentenced to a gruesome death. None of these places (especially the last) are where he wants to be, and the only desire he sees in life is for his love Valerie.

Judd is continually pulled by others desires, and is eventually forced to decide whether he will continue following the path set out for him, or to forge his own path and actually do some good, which is a decision I think most young Americans try to avoid.
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