THE LAST GURU by Daniel M. Pinkwater
Kirkus Star

THE LAST GURU

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This starts out even better than Lizard Music, with twelve-year-old Harold Blatz putting his three-years' savings on his first racetrack bet, investing the 90-to-one winnings in the stagnant Hamish MacTavish Zenburger chain, and ending up the fifth richest person in the world. When word gets out, celebrity seekers make the Blatzes' life so miserable that they flee to MacTavish's castle in the Bavarian Alps, where all the furniture is plastic and each room is an exact replica of a different MacTavish restaurant. (There are even ""Feed Me"" garbage cans in the form of the MacTavish clown, Japanese monk Hodie MacBodhi.) From wacky satire, the vibrations change to a virtual hum as the Blatzes settle happily in an Indian village--where, as a gift to townspeople who can't think of anything they need, Harold orders a prefabricated bowling alley from England. The bowling alley becomes a shrine after Harold goes off to the Tibetan monastery of the 1000-year-old Silly Hat sect--whose founder, the monks believe with some reason, has been reincarnated in Harold. When Harold returns to Rochester, New York, two years later, there's a hilarious scene at the airport as guru after guru is disgorged from the midnight plane from Bombay and whisked off by crowds of devoted followers. Harold, it seems, has returned to an America in the midst of an Eastern-inspired (or, more specifically, Hodie MacBodhi-inspired) spiritual rebirth--and from here on Pinkwater begins to come down too hard. Compared, for example, with his throwaway list of painters' names in Lizard Music, there's something a little heavy, and more than a little testy, in his repeated reference to Buttered Rum Crass, the Hairy Cricket Brotherhood, Alan Plotz, and the rest--and, in Harold's climactic, didactic speech puncturing the whole guru craze, the direct attack somehow violates the message. Nevertheless, the message is not tacked on; the whole crazy adventure has been building to it all along, and the road is paved with Pinkwater's delightful, straight-faced observations of everyday absurdities and outlandish manifestations.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1978
Publisher: Dodd, Mead