Driving Jesus to Little Rock
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Product ID : 9781736720271

Driving Jesus to Little Rock

Price: $17.85


Paperback, 278 Pages 
Release Date, September 19, 2021

Roland Merullo’s
Driving Jesus to Little Rock, fits neatly on the shelf with his other beloved, quirky-spiritual books: Golfing with God, American Savior, Vatican Waltz, The Delight of Being Ordinary, and the Buddha trilogy (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)—a list that has sold over half a million copies and been widely translated.

This time, the narrator, Eddie Valpolicella, is on his way from Massachusetts to Arkansas to give a talk on "his" novel, Breakfast with Buddha, when, not far from home, he picks up a mysterious hitchhiker. Plainly dressed, insisting that he's a fan of the author, the hitchhiker claims to be Jesus, the Jesus, and accompanies Eddie on a five-day road trip that challenges him in an amusing variety of ways. Every night on the way south, Eddie calls home to speak with his wife, and Anna Maria’s fiery insistence on choosing trust over suspicion gradually pushes him out of his original cynicism. Jesus plays tricks appearing and disappearing, changing shape, vacillating from stern teacher to affectionate friend—and Eddie, confused, suspicious, and wrestling with his own preconceived notions of spirituality, only very slowly realizes that he’s being given precious guidance in the art of living.

As he did in his other road trip adventures, Merullo manages to walk a tightrope by raising deep philosophical questions without sounding preachy. The author provokes readers to think about life while also making them laugh and providing them with a boots-on-the-ground view of America.

This journey includes wealthy Russian businessmen, poor Appalachian deer hunters, South American spirit guides, and tours of places as seemingly disparate as a therapeutic massage studio in Lower Manhattan, the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, and Thomas Merton’s Gethsemane monastery in rural Kentucky. Along the way there are meals and drinks, wrong turns and intriguing scenery, all brought into focus beside the book’s utterly original yet strangely believable Jesus. Driving Jesus to Little Rock amuses, illuminates, and entertains, ultimately serving as the perfect comfort food for battered, post-Covid readers.


Roland Merullo is the author of twenty-four books of fiction and non-fiction, that range from suspense novels (Fidel's Last Days, A Russian Requiem, Revere Beach Boulevard, The Return) to love stories (A Little Love Story, The Talk-Funny Girl, Leaving Losapas) to golf and travel books (Golfing with God, Passion for Golf, The Italian Summer, Taking the Kids to Italy) to humorous spiritual road trips (Breakfast with Buddha, Lunch with Buddha, Dinner with Buddha, The Delight of Being Ordinary, Golfing with God, American Savior). His books have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and been translated across the globe, from China to Brazil, from Korea to Croatia, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards (see below).

Much in demand as a speaker, Merullo has given informal talks, commencement, and convocation speeches at colleges and universities in New England, California, Florida, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Nebraska, as well as at open-minded churches of various denominations and hundreds of libraries, schools, and community organizations.

His latest novel, Once Night Falls, will be published on December 1, 2019. The book was selected as a November pick by Amazon First Read's editors who called the novel "Both epic and intimate in its portrayal of World War II Italy." They continued by saying, "Merullo expertly illuminates the war’s devastation of the country and its culture. ...So immediate, it plunges the reader into this harrowing time, making the story—and the chapter of history—feel intensely personal. ...The book is unflinching in its portrayal of wartime turmoil. Yet heroism and hopefulness drive these characters. Once Night Falls is a page-turning, propulsive read, and the stakes are always incredibly high. But it is the characters—and the powerful lessons they bestow—that make this is a truly unforgettable story."

Moments of Grace and Beauty: Forty Stories of Kindness, Courage, and Generosity in a Troubled World, a work of nonfiction, was also released in 2019.

Merullo was born in Boston and raised in the working-class city of Revere, Massachusetts. He had a scholarship to Exeter Academy and graduated in 1971, attended Boston University for two years, transferred to Brown and graduated from Brown in 1975, then earned a Master's there--in Russian Studies-- in 1976. He's been a carpenter, a cab driver, a Peace Corps volunteer in Micronesia, a college professor, worked for many months on cultural exchange exhibits in the former USSR, and he's traveled to 49 US states and across the northern hemisphere. He currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife Amanda and their two daughters. He can be reached at Roland@RolandMerullo.com.

His many awards and prizes include:

- Massachusetts Book Award in Non-Fiction: Revere Beach Elegy

- Nomination for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award: Breakfast with Buddha

- Massachusetts Book Honor Award in Fiction: American Savior

- One of Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2013 (religious subjects): Vatican Waltz

- American Library Association Alex Award: The Talk-Funny Girl

- Boston Globe's 100 Essential Books of New England: Revere Beach Boulevard

- Finalist LL Winship/PEN New England Prize: Revere Beach Boulevard

- Booklist Editors Choice: In Revere, In Those Days

- Maria Thomas Fiction Prize for Year's Best Novel by a former Peace Corps Volunteer: In Revere, In Those Days

- Kirkus Reviews "Best of 2013" List: Lunch with Buddha

- B.Dalton Discovery Series: Leaving Losapas

- Good Housekeeping's Ten Wonderful Romance Novels: A Little Love Story

His best-selling novel, Breakfast with Buddha, has gone into its 20th printing and has sold over 200,000 copies. Like Golfing with God before it and American Savior after it, Breakfast with Buddha treats questions of philosophy/spirituality from a multi-denominational viewpoint and with a healthy dose of humor. The novel has become a favorite with book clubs all over the country and been the focus of numerous community-wide reads from Colorado to Connecticut. It was based on an actual trip Merullo took from New York to North Dakota, most of it in the company of his wife and daughters.

Also based on actual road trips, and also available in various formats (including a collector's edition) is Merullo's 2012 novel, Lunch with Buddha, the long-awaited sequel to Breakfast with Buddha. Lunch with Buddha details a trip from Washington State to North Dakota with the same wonderful characters as its predecessor. In a Starred Review, Kirkus called it, "a beautifully written and compelling story about a man's search for meaning that earnestly and accessibly tackles some well-trodden but universal questions. A quiet meditation on life, death, darkness and spirituality, sprinkled with humor, tenderness and stunning landscapes." Lunch with Buddha recently went into a fifth printing and has also been widely translated.

Dinner with Buddha follows the same cast of characters from Breakfast with Buddha and Lunch with Buddha as they make another hilarious, spiritually uplifting road trip across the American west.

Merullo's novella, Rinpoche's Remarkable Ten-Week Weight Loss Clinic, features two of the characters from the Buddha Trilogy. Ostensibly about a weight loss clinic run by the meditation master Volya Rinpoche, this compact and deftly structured story explores aspects of addiction and self-appreciation from a fresh vantage point.

An avid and accomplished golfer, his Ten Commandments of Golf Etiquette, is perfect for those who are new to the game and want to master the complicated dance that is on-course behavior. His other golf-related books include Passion for Golf; In Pursuit of the Innermost Game, Golfing with God, and The Italian Summer.

The Return is a dark and thrilling sequel to Revere Beach Boulevard and follows the lives of a circle of people who are linked by one man's addiction.

Merullo's humorous travel memoir, Taking the Kids to Italy, is a light read that tells the story of a disastrous family trip to Italy. Everything that could possibly go wrong, did go wrong, from illness to cold houses, but the author shines the light of laughter on all of it and creates a story that will appeal to armchair travelers and to any family that has met with vacation challenges.

His novel, Vatican Waltz, received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal and was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the five best books of 2013 on the subject of religion. More serious than his other spiritual novels, it tells the intriguing story of a young Catholic woman who believes she is being called by God to become a parish priest.

Merullo's 2005 novel, Golfing with God, has just been re-optioned for film by Gemfilms and the actor John Turturro held the option to Leaving Losapas for ten years.

The Talk-Funny Girl, a 2011 Alex Award winner, is the story of a teenage girl in rural New Hampshire who escapes an abusive home life in a most unusual way. It follows a theme that can be found in almost all Merullo's books, that is, a person who bravely overcomes some past trauma, whether that be the stress of war, illness, divorce, addiction, or early abuse. The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.

Please watch Roland's FaceBook page for news of upcoming workshops and events or visit his website www.rolandmerullo.com to sign up for his popular monthly newsletter (essays, giveaways, serialized stories, announcements).

ON THE PLUS SIDE, three monthly essays on various topics, plus his regular monthly newsletter. To subscribe and begin receiving the essays in your email every Tuesday, go to RolandMerullo.com. The newsletter includes announcements of book groups and appearances, giveaways, bits of Merullo's past published writing, and a 'greeting' from the author that is often personal musing on current events and the writing life.


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