Bowl Of Cherries

by Millard Kaufman (McSweeney’s)

| November / December 2007

Millard Kaufman’s imagination runs amok in Bowl of Cherries, the 90-year-old screenwriter’s delightfully outlandish debut novel. Chapters leapfrog between a hayloft in Colorado, a porn studio in the Big Apple, and Assama, Iraq—a chicken-shaped province that’s the hypothetical location of the Garden of Eden, where human excrement infused with salted sand, shale additive, and “an agglutinate, marvelous but unidentifiable,” fashions the capital city’s homes and public buildings, including the jail that holds our narrator, teen whiz kid Judd Breslau. While Judd is awaiting execution by impalement, he recalls the absurd events that led him there, most notably his post-Yale stint contemplating suicide on a dilapidated country estate harboring a coterie of “out to pasture” academics, including Phillips Chatterton, a bathrobe-clad Egyptologist with a “sworl of sauerkraut hair” who warns that “the world is marching off a cliff.”