Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dishing Hockey and Donuts with Award-Winning Author Roland Merullo

Award-winning author Roland Merullo loves hockey (and donuts) as much as I do. He wrote something to that effect to me and then signed his name in the copy of Lunch with Buddha I had purchased.

I haven’t read all of his books, such as the one with a donut on the cover, but I will buy them because I anticipate more hockey, more donut references. But it’s more than that. The magic of Merullo is his thought-provoking style of storytelling. He makes me question my own behavior and beliefs but not in a Thou-shalt, heavy-handed fashion. His fiction is unique yet real, affirming and enlightening, funny, spell-binding.

Characters in his books seem to have a thing for hockey and those halo-like treats that serve as one of this site’s hallmarks, so I asked Merullo about this connection. We traded email, and I now present these six questions and answers.  

Jim Dwyer: I know you shy away from donuts now—but what donut do you equate with paradise?

Roland Merullo: Honey dipped or chocolate honey dipped, but my tastes are eclectic.

JD: When you were twenty-four, you broke your back. So hockey, as you wrote in a 2012 Facebook posting, is "off the table." But you must have played as a kid in Revere or at Phillips Exeter. What are one or two of your fondest recollections of those days?

RM: I skated at the MDC rink in Revere, and play street hockey in front of my house, but I never was on the ice with a stick until 11th grade at Exeter. I made the club all-star team, and have many great memories from those days. I also played a little club hockey at B.U. and Brown, and in a men’s league on an outdoor rink the one year we lived on Martha’s Vineyard (my wife taught at the high school). That was AFTER the broken back. Many great memories but my last goal was a tip-in on a shot from the left point. I just laid out my stick and it went into the upper right-hand corner. A good shot to retire on.

JD: One more real-life question before we move on to your books: Who was and perhaps still is your favorite hockey player?

RM: Eddie Shack, hands down. I liked his nuttiness.

(JD’s note: Eddie once owned a few donut shacks, so to speak).

JD: In Breakfast with Buddha, Otto Ringling has a hockey scar. How would Otto describe the incident that gave him that mark on his neck?

RM: He was on the wrong end of a high stick.

JD: Otto's "breakfast" companion, Volya Rinpoche, loves miniature golf, but what does he think of hockey?

RM: Well, he’s from Siberia, so we have to assume he would enjoy it. He fell asleep at a baseball game, however. I saw one game in Russia, actually the USSR, in 1977, when they still called themselves amateurs. No fighting, a little checking, but the best passing I have ever seen.

JD: If Rinpoche were to meet Jesus in an American Savior sequel, where would they meet for donuts?

RM: The donut shop where Jake meets Janet in Allston in my novel, A Little Love Story. It’s made up, based loosely on a shop in Hadley, MA, on Route 9, with a very talkative Greek owner.

Check out a Merullo novel or non-fiction book from your local library. Buy one from a real or virtual shelf and then have him sign it at one if his events
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