Finding the Buddha
A dark story of genius, friendship and stand-up comedy. A mysterious man with a Midas touch delights the world but still seeks release from his own personal nightmare.
Mark Wladika can do just about anything. As a high school sophomore, he demonstrates an uncanny grasp of quantum physics. As a young Marine, he is a master of hand-to-hand combat, capable of taking out men twice his size with a single blow. He is a cosmologist, a philosopher, an observer of the human condition, and-unbeknownst to anyone-a man plagued by sorrow, loss, and deep longing.
One day, Wladika directs his genius to the art of stand-up comedy, and by doing so brings a new sense of hope to lackluster Albuquerque, New Mexico. As his fame grows, comedians, comedy aficionados, and businessmen alike believe that Wladika can transform the city, so much so that it will soon become to comedy what Chicago is to the blues, what New Orleans is to jazz, and what Hollywood is to movies.
Finding the Buddha is told through the voices of six characters whose lives the comic profoundly affects. Each hopes to benefit from the Midas touch of the mysterious genius who rockets toward the top of the comedy world, unaware that he doesn’t care about fame or fortune—he’s on a quest.
An outstanding tale of Albuquerque and stand-up comedy. Eddie Tafoya has written a novel that is by turns funny, sad, exciting, and profound. Finding the Buddha is the story of the rise and fall of a stand-up comedian Mark Wladika, an enormously gifted comedian who enthralls the local Albuquerque comedy scene. Told from the point of view of different characters, we see Mark’s talents, but also learn of his demons. Tafoya does a great job of showing how Mark touches the lives around him, whether this is of his best friend, a love interest, or a low-rate bar owner.
This is a book about the power of comedy to transform us. Finding the Buddha is at its best when Tafoya is describing comedy clubs and comedy shows. His clear love for stand-up comedy as an art form shines through, and there are a number of excellent descriptions of the communion that can only exist in a great stand-up comedy performance. When Mark is on stage, Tafoya transports us to that moment, and I found those descriptions very unique and very moving. I haven’t seen anything like them in American literature before.
If you love stand-up comedy, or you want a tribute to Albuquerque, read this book!
I actually read this book almost a year ago, and am just now getting around to writing a review. Interestingly, I’ve had to do very little re-reading to refresh my memory on plot points and character names, a testament to the stick-to-your-ribsness of this quirky, hard-to-put-down novel/ autobiography/whatever it is. Hence the title of my review. The Albuquerque setting is so vivid it’s almost a character itself, and the six characters who take turns narrating the story are all very distinct and interesting, I would say Helen Denise being the most so.
Tafoya’s world-building is incredible.Photography and stand-up comedy play major roles in the story, and are described so passionately and vividly that I found myself wanting to go out and buy an expensive camera, then audition for a comedy show, despite having no previous inclination towards either hobby (not to mention having debilitating stage fright)
I won’t rehash the description of Mark Wladika or any of the other characters, as that’s been done, but the interactions between the characters and the unexpected twists in their individual lives keep the story moving along at a pace that feels like riding in the bed of a rusty old pickup– fun, bumpy, a little terrifying at times, but ultimately you want to hang on and see where it’s all going. Well-done, Dr. T!
Reviewed in the United States on October 26, 2015
Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2015
Tafoya is especially skilled at putting his readers into the shoes of the comedian to display the transforming power of humor. He offers a powerful blend of philosophy, sacred literature, and quick-witted jokes that bend the funny bone and transform preconceived notions of what comedy can accomplish. Within this novel’s unique blend of the profound and the profane, the foolish and the wise, and the absurd and the real, Tafoya demonstrates that the Buddha employs jest to enlighten the comedy club!
Reviewed in the United States on September 14, 2015
Reviewed in the United States on September 10, 2015