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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions; Original edition (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781609450687
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609450687
  • ASIN: 160945068X
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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)

About 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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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bob on July 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
It's fast, funny, and entertaining but I hope the publisher will clean up the text before the next printing. There are lots of basic errors like "its" for "it's," "lets" for "let's"--as many as two on a couple of pages. One location, the Fake 'N' Bake tanning salon, gets at least three versions of its name. There are also some dangling modifiers that one can only assume are unintentional because they don't serve the style or sense. I hate to sound churlish because I am enjoying the book--I'm about halfway through--but the level of copyediting/proofreading mistakes is distracting.
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Format: Paperback
In a California desert-scape of Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Borrego Springs and surrounding, albeit less-notable communities, drama is brewing in the midst of a political election. While incumbent Randall Duke assembles his faithful troops, newcomer Mary Swain, a comely beauty waving a decidedly conservative political banner, has captured the attention of a significant base of supporters, one of her admirers the hard-bitten Chief Harding Marvin, of Desert Hot Springs. Of course, public personas are far removed from the real life encounters in these desert enclaves, from extra-marital affairs to blackmail and murder, as behind-the-scenes behavior threatens to spill into public view. A messy double murder leads investigators to local personalities as the sloppy crimes yields more than one bedroom scandal and potential murder suspect.

Greenland writes like a desert-bleached Tom Wolfe, his raft of colorful characters flawed and often unlikable, from Randall Duke to the politico's ex-cop brother, Jimmy, and ex-con brother Dale, Jimmy clearly the most salvageable of the three, newly-released Dale relegated to a wheelchair that hardly impedes his criminal predilections. Then there are the ladies, Randall's indiscreet wife, Kendra, Marvin's wife Vonda Jean and the remarkably indiscriminate murder victim, Nadine Never. Small time crook Odin Brick and Randall's campaign manager, Maxon Brae, fill out the roster, along with Jimmy Duke's online Buddhist counselor and the desert Machiavelli, a blogger who reveals everyone's dirty little secrets. Like the prodigious Mr. Wolfe, Greenland is sometimes bitingly clever and sometimes a little too smug. One thing for sure: where there's wealth and power, there's greed and temptation. Luan Gaines/2012.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jake Mckenna on February 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with "Bob" regarding the typo's and other errors, including one scene that begins with Randall planning his first campaign visit to a golf club, then three pages later, the event is described as a visit to a senior center. I liked "The Bones" enough to purchase this and put "Shining City" in my cart, but now I'm not sure. This felt half done, slapped out without a lot of thought. The plot is nonsensical, which may be the point, but with weakly drawn characters, and little tension I never became engaged in the book and finished it with the same sense of disengaement I imagined the author felt writing this.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Goodwich on June 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Angry Buddhist" is Seth Greenland's third book. I have read the other two, 2005 "The Bones" and 2008 "Shining City". I have enjoyed all of his books giving all of them a 4 star rating. Mr. Greenland has away with characters and plots, there is a hint of Carl Hassen in his books (high praise).

I will not go into the story-line, many other reviews have already done this so I will just rate the book on its elements (0 to 5 being highest):

Protagonist Development: 4
Antagonist Development: 4
Minor Character Development: 3
Storyline: 4
Setting: 3
Theme: 4
Writing Style: 4
Overall Rating: 4
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mitchell G. Lewis on February 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am 64. I have been a Zen Buddhist / Soto tradition / White Plum lineage for 53 years. This is not the forum to discuss 'anger' as it is a very deep subject that has been discussed in Buddhist circles for a few thousand years. As a Buddhist, I am compelled not to be judgemental or critical of another sentient being or the impact that may or may not occur in its life. I love reading books. I read this one. The lure for me was the 'Buddhist' in the title. I guess that the worm just fell off the hook, for me, in this book. I hope others enjoy the experience of the story.
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By Colleen Bates on January 29, 2014
Format: Paperback
I love what a previous poster wrote: "a sun-bleached Tom Wolfe." That's spot on. Seth Greenland is a smart, observant writer with a fine-tuned sense of humor, sense of place, and ability to create nutty characters who are simply irresistible.
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Format: Paperback
Readers looking for a Buddhist oriented novel will have to look elsewhere. Although one of the main characters of this story is exploring mindfulness and meditation to cope with being discharged from the police force and messy divorce, Buddhist themes and ideas are sparse and few between. But if you can get around the title's promises of a dharma-related narrative, this is a fun book, relating the activities during a 10 day period of multiple dysfunctional politicians and their families, interspersed with very clever and biting commentary from an unidentified blogger who has an amazing amount of inside information on sex scandals and sleazy activities by two candidates running for the House of Representatives.

An overview of the storyline is available elsewhere on this page so I won't go into it here. I thought the novel got off to a slow start but by the half way mark, the secret trysts, a series of murders and some very clever writing (think Kurt Vonnegut or Doug Adams) make it a real page turner. Although the main crimes (a series of murders) are described in detail, a key mystery remains until the end of the book regarding who the blogger is who writes such insightful, funny and biting commentaries on the many sordid incidents. The blogger reminded me of the chorus in a Greek drama, only with an attitude. This is a fun book but give it a hundred pages or so for it to get really good. By then you'll be hooked. If you want a fun read that involves a lot of real Buddhism, check out the (non-fiction) Bones of the Master: A Journey to Secret Mongolia.
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