on March 18, 2014
At thirty-nine, Bartholomew Neil still isn't ready to leave his mother's nest, but when he loses her to cancer, he's left with no other choice. His once-stable, once-routine world—of just him, his mother, and God—crumbles to pieces when one of his biggest role models, Father McNamee, consequently denounces himself from the Catholic church, and in turn, becomes more than just a religious father figure to Bartholomew, by becoming a human being.
Convinced that his other beloved role model, Richard Gere, is watching over him now that God no longer is, Bartholomew begins a one-way correspondence; these letters are what make up the entire novel. This fantasy relationship he creates is the only thing that still connects him to his deceased mother, considering she was Richard Gere's biggest fan, and the sole belief that he is guiding Bartholomew as if they were old friends, leads to unexpected discoveries and profound self-inquiry.
The unique narrator is what stood out to me, first and foremost. It is not a shock that Quick would write a protagonist who isn't quite normal—one who clearly suffers from a mental disorder, but internally, is the same as any and all of us: deeply, imperfectly human. Bartholomew isn't a grand hero, no, but he glows with sincerity and is a compassionate, warm character; his brilliantly observant and self-recognizing tone will capture the hearts of readers just as that of The Silver Linings Playbook did.
Matthew Quick is skilled not only at providing perspective, but also at conveying the necessity of pretending—not out of delusion, but out of self-preservation—and the sheer magic of believing—whether through faith or through faithlessness. While the book is stylistically simple, it will make you think hard and think long; Bartholomew's introspection on religion, political correctness, and the nature of existence, will make your mind turn. There are moments where you'll disbelievingly relate, and resultantly be touched—fate—and the way the story proceeds rather messily, but falls into place, piece by piece—synchronicity—will provide immense comfort; this is a story for the soul. Whether through acts of God or through coincidence, Bartholomew's life changes gradually at the discovery of an unlikely cast of new friends, and through little achievements that propel him forward further than he could imagine; it is you, the privileged reader, who gets to go along for the ride.
Pros: Requires deep thinking // Will make you reconsider the stigma of mental health disorders // Interesting perspective of a man's "delusions" // Casual, mellow style // Moves quickly; easy to read and keep reading // Story itself is synchronous as it comes into full circle // Distinct, unforgettable characters // Emotional, heartfelt
Cons: Plot isn't terribly exciting; it's more the details and Bartholomew's day-to-day observances that make it interesting // Rushed, inconclusive ending
Verdict: Pensive, honest, and appropriately quirky, The Good Luck of Right Now meditates upon the power of correspondence, the catharsis of confiding, and the definition of believing. Through writing descriptive, intimate letters to his lifelong idol—the ultimate coping mechanism—Bartholomew learns about independence, acquaintance, and ever-burning hope—a remedy for both him, and for readers all around. Fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime will rejoice in Matthew Quick's newest novel for its genuine, thoughtful reflections and its propensity for happy outcomes in the tumbling-together of stray paths.
Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): An engaging read that will be worth your while; highly recommended.
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!).
With "The Silver Linings Playbook," author Matthew Quick took troubled characters and treated them with immeasurable compassion, respect, and humor. Despite enormous obstacles, the novel's central protagonist was possessed of an unwavering hope and a unique world view. This balance of the eccentric with the mundane, of an infused sadness with a laugh-out-loud boisterousness, showcased a book that was deceptively simple yet packed a surprisingly powerful punch. With the Oscar winning film adaptation of that novel having raised Quick's popular profile, I'm sure that his other endeavors are being more closely scrutinized. And his newest tale, "The Good Luck of Right Now," covers some of the same themes as its famous predecessor. Told through the eyes of Bartholomew Neil, the story relies on a narrator that is often unaware of the big picture that surrounds him. At times he can be frustratingly obtuse, at others charmingly clueless. Having been sheltered from life, as well as saddled with certain mental and physical limitations, Bartholomew is left to rebuild his world after his mother passes and his cozy existence of co-dependence comes to an end. At first, he may not seem up to the task. But don't count Bartholomew out just yet!
In an unusual narrative device, the book is structured as a series of letters to Richard Gere. Yes, that Richard Gere. An isolated Bartholomew turns to Gere because he was the favorite actor of his recently deceased mother. In her waning days, she even refers to her son as Richard and he draws strength and confidence by assuming some of the traits of this alter ego. Even as I write this sentence, I know that sounds incredibly precious and false and yet Quick made me believe it. Not only believe it, I suppose, but care. The letters are both sad and funny and reveal the journey that Bartholomew is on, even if he never really recognizes it himself. At first, he only shares his grief with a local priest and a trusted counselor. But as things progress, we see that neither of these support mechanisms is as well put together as you might hope. As their lives are shown to be slowly unraveling, Bartholomew is making brave strides. He meets and befriends a rather volatile psychological patient and his sister, and even plans a road trip with his new friends. By opening himself up to new experiences, he may just be stronger and more independent than he even believed possible.
"The Good Luck of Right Now" is both the book's title and its philosophy. Bartholomew gets by with a simple adage from his mother, and this purity of thought, hope, and optimism is a comfort to both him and those that surround him. Embrace what is in front of you, even accepting misfortune is a benefit to someone else. Once again, while this sounds rather corny (and it might be in someone else's hands), it feels like a revelation here and it is presented in a sweet and subtle manner. I found myself rooting for Bartholomew and, indeed, all of the troubled souls that populate "The Good Luck of Right Now." In a somewhat ingenious way, Quick doesn't texture the prose with many mysteries. You'll figure out prominent plot turns well before Bartholomew does and that's a fascinating approach. This is solely about a journey, both literally and metaphorically, and I was happy to see it through to the end. I don't consider myself very sentimental, so I appreciated the story's harder edges. I never thought, even at their most exposed, that the characters were sappy or contrived. One again, Quick has developed a story that looks quite simple but is filled with much meaning. Perhaps this isn't for everyone, but it was exceedingly effective for me. About 4 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 10/13.
I feel like I might be a bit of a minority in my opinion of this book, particularly since Matthew Quick is such a "hot" author since Silver Linings went massive. But anyway, I have to say I'm not overly impressed, though this is the first book I've actually read by him. The Good Luck of Right Now isn't really a bad book, it's just not the sort of thing that really caught my attention all the way through even though I did finish it in about a day. It's the type of book that's not super heavy on throwing ideas at you but rather building the background (beginning), giving you the idea (middle), and then putting it into some sort of action (end). The Good Luck of Right Now itself is the actual idea Quick explores and it's beautifully described in what is about the best chapter of the book in my opinion. Honestly, it was such a good explanation even though I wouldn't necessarily recommend the book, I'd recommend reading just that chapter.
We meet Bartholomew Neil who is learning to cope without his mother who has recently died of brain cancer (no real spoilers, promise. It's in the first five or so pages of the book). To do so he starts writing letters to Richard Gere and whether or not the actor is being sent them is another question but is not inherently important to the story. What is important is that we see how Bartholomew goes about the process of coping with his grief and the people that become his flock including a somewhat temperamental priest, a grief counselor, a library volunteer and her questionably sane brother. An intriguing group of characters to be sure. This is a book about beginnings and endings and all the struggles in between. And each character definitely has struggles aplenty, some more important to the story than others.
What I didn't quite get into was that I had a hard time really connecting with any characters. At several points we find out that Bartholomew may not be an entirely trustworthy narrator. We also must sit through some of Max (the questionably sane one) ranting with the use of the f-word thrown in about every third word or less on multiple occasions. I'm not an overly sensitive reader, but it got tiring after one page and then three more of reading it over and over at one point to the effect that I actually lost track of what Max was saying that sounded kind of important. The other issue is that while the idea is eventually explained in the book it feels like it takes a long time to get there. This isn't even a particularly long story, but it feels longer than necessary. Our narrator, however consistent or not he is, has grand moments of eloquence that follow on moments of apparent naivety or lack of self-introspection. He's not overly inconsistent, but enough so that the narrative flow feels off balance at times. For someone who apparently has no idea what he's going to do with his life, there was no sense of urgency to the story of Bartholomew other than what others tell him to do.
In the end I felt a bit flat with The Good Luck of Right Now. Fans of the author will love it, I'm sure. This just wasn't something I found myself connecting to on a deeper level or really being able to suggest to people. The device of writing to Richard Gere didn't exactly grow old, but it did sort of disappear at times until we were jarred back into remembering that's how Bartholomew's been coping with his loss. Good in a kind of uplifting way for me, I guess, but not much else.
Note: Free copy received from Harper via Goodreads First Reads for an honest review.
The author, Matthew Quick, has found his niche. Lovable people who are a little bit 'off', suffering from some sort of separation discord. This book reminds me of the people next door to the family of 'Silver Linings Playbook'. Living in Philadelphia, and playing out their dreams.
Bartholomew Neil has lived with his mother all his life. Watching television daily, the Olympics, and, in particular the Iron Cross that the triangle torso men performed on. The Olympics were a big part of their lives. When his mother received a letter from Richard Gere, who she so revered, asking that no one support the Olympics in China that year, his mother turned off the TV. Richard Gere was a man you listened to. When mom became very ill, she confused Bartholomew with Richard and started calling him Richard. He went along with this and asked the caretakers to call him Richard. He loved his mom, and after a bit she died. For the first time in 38 years, Bartholomew was alone to find his way in life. He found the letter from Richard Gere, and he started writing to Richard about his mom, his hopes and dreams, and how he should move on and find his life.
It is true, Bartholomew, had people to help him. His grief therapist, the librarian and her brother. A motley crew, true, but they met and helped each other. Some aspects of this book are humorous, but much if it is sad as the day to day life moves on.. A trip to Canada tops off the friendship. Father MacNamee was also going along, he had been a big presence in mom and Bartholomew's life. Bartholomew learns how to get along without mom, and in this touching book, we learn how he is going to live his life.
Recommended. prisrob 11-05-13
The Good Luck of Right Now, by Matthew Quick is a very offbeat and unusual novel. Like Silver Linings Playbook, there is a complex mixture of sadness and humor. Quick's characters are somehow all just slightly off the beaten path. In this case, it's the story of Bartholomew Neil, a 38-year-old suffering from Asperger's. When his mother dies, he embarks of a journey of self-discovery amassing a crowd of oddball friends who are living their lives - how shall I put it? - nonlinearly? The pack includes Father McNamee, sort of an alcoholic but also a defrocked Catholic priest, who still prays quite a bit. There's also a librarian, filled with trauma of sorts, hiding out in the library under a mane of hair. And Max, a foul-mouthed movie house employee suffering with Tourette's Syndrome.
With these people is the constant awareness of being different leading Max to question the meaning of life as they know it. He wonders, why do they even exist. Short answer from Bartholomew is without opposites in the world, there would be no measures - all would be meaningless.
Punctuating this story of misfits is Bartholomew's obsession with Richard Gere, to whom he pens a number of letters spilling the personal details of his life freely. In Bartholomew's mind, this is an important relationship. An interesting personal glimpse into Bartholomew's thought process and personal history.
Ultimately, this is a quirky but beautiful story about the power of friendship perhaps made stronger by the each person's awkward individual circumstances and social placement in the scheme of life. And it's about creating a family with the people who matter to you the most.
on May 1, 2014
Never having to encounter this author before, I wasn't sure exactly what to think about Matthew Quick. I heard a lot about his novels and after seeing this at the library, knew that I had to give it a shot and see how it goes. Oh boy... I definitely could not have predicted the experience that I went through with this book...
Quote: “When something bad happens to us, something good happens - often to someone else. And that's The Good Luck of Right Now. We must believe it. We must. We must. We must.”
The Good Luck of Right Now introduces us to some very interesting characters that are definitely nothing alike. You have Bartholomew Neil who seems normal all throughout the book but there is hints that he might be autistic. Along the story we meet Max, a guy who believes in aliens and is grieving about his dead cat. Oh and let's not forget the alcoholic priest with bipolar disorder and a lot of secrets.
The whole story is being told by Bartholomew writing a letter to Richard Geer. It's so random and absurd that it really shouldn't make sense but weirdly, it works perfectly with the story. I can't believe how much this book moved me and how sorry I felt for the main characters.
There was a scene in the story where the crew were discussing why they are weird and why can't they be normal. Bartholomew said that they are needed in this world to be weird because noone else can be. I just thought that was so beautiful and unique, it melted my heart.
With that said, I think I have found my new favorite author and definitely will need to pick up more of his books.
on February 24, 2014
Bartholomew Neil has lived with his mother all his life and has never held a job. Others consider him to be mentally challenged, and the little man in his stomach gets quite angry whenever anyone calls him ''retard." He tries very hard to be a good person, and often ponders why some people seem to have good luck while others seem to have none. He spends much of his time at the library researching whatever topic interests him at the moment and watching a young woman shelving books. He harbors a secret crush on her and, in his mind, has dubbed her "Girlbrarian." When his mother dies of brain cancer, longtime family friend and parish priest Father McNamee moves in with Bartholomew. The priest has recently defrocked himself, and spends his time praying for hours on end or drinking heavily. Father has bipolar disorder and refuses to take his medication.
Bartholomew begins grief counseling, and in a yellow room, the counselor introduces him to Max, who is grieving over the death of his beloved pet of 15 years, a calico cat named Alice. Max uses some form of the f-word in every sentence, perhaps suggesting that he suffers from Tourette's syndrome. The two grieving men go out for a beer at a pub. Upon learning that Girlbrarian is actually Max's sister, Bartholomew realizes he now has an actual chance to speak to the woman of his dreams. Is it synchronicity that Max and Elizabeth are siblings? Elizabeth is a library volunteer, the victim of a violent assault, and a believer in aliens.
This quartet of misfits --- Bartholomew, Father McNamee, Max and Elizabeth --- plan a road trip to Montreal and Ottawa. Father McNamee assures Bartholomew that he will meet his father in Montreal. His mother had told him long ago that his father was killed by a hate group because of his religion. This new information --- that his father might be alive in Montreal --- is difficult for Bartholomew to accept, but the idea of actually traveling somewhere, anywhere that is not Philadelphia, is certainly exciting. And Max and Elizabeth will be going along because Max absolutely must visit the Cat Parliament in Ottawa. Cat Parliament, really? This will be a most unusual trip.
This motley crew of travelers is somewhat reminiscent of another group of fictional characters --- Dorothy and her assorted friends who were bound for Oz. The novel tackles some pretty heavy questions: What is the meaning of life? Is there a possible balance between good and evil, and can a person be good and yet do evil things? Is one religion right, and does that make other religions wrong? Bartholomew certainly has a lot to think about. He pours out his thoughts, doubts and questions to actor Richard Gere regularly in letters. It seems to help, even though he knows he will never mail any of those letters. He imagines the advice Richard might suggest, and this gives him confidence.
Reading THE GOOD LUCK OF RIGHT NOW is a bit similar to riding a rollercoaster blindfolded. The reader has no idea what will be revealed on the next page. One minute you are snickering over the description of the yellow room where it is safe to tell all, and the next you are a bit annoyed by Max's foul-mouthed rants. After Bartholomew tenderly recalls his mother's philosophy that life is made up of good, small moments, a senseless vandalism occurs at Bartholomew's home and the mood of the story abruptly changes. Matthew Quick (author of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK) has a vivid imagination, a knack for creating believable characters, and the ability to keep the reader engaged in the story.
Reviewed by Carole Turner
The writing here is indeed remarkable. The eccentricity makes the book, and yet is the one disturbing factor that keeps it from a five star read, in my opinion. Nothing can be said about this book that hasn't been said in at least one of the 30 reviews written so far. There are those, only a few I expect, that just won't undeeerstand what the author is doing. And those few won't like it. But for the rest of us, this is a book to treasure.
The quirky characters are, in my mind, impossible to dislike. You might not want them in your home, but they are delightful to read about.
It's hard to determine exactly who will like this and who won't. It may even depend largely on your mood at the time you read it. So I recommend it to everyone. If you don't like it, well....that's how the cookie crumbles.
on February 16, 2014
This book made me decide that I will read everything this author writes. I loved it. It is written in the form of letters to Richard Gere and I didn't really know what to make of it at first. The best way I can explain it is that the book asks why some people live glossy, beautiful lives and some people live lives where horror is an every day or at least frequent visitor. Through the letters, Bartholomew is reaching from his end of the spectrum to the other side. Are the kindnesses and grand gestures of celebrities any different than the kindnesses and grand gestures of the uncelebrated? This book declares that yes, of course they are. Matthew Quick has a special sensitivity for the mentally ill and the misfits of the world. He had it in Silver Linings Playbook and he has it here too. I love that. I work in a library so I appreciated the library references and he has a great sense of humor. Loved the "default platitude" of the grief counselor as Bartholomew described it. It's a small thing but you'll have to read it to find it. Awesome book. I have to thank Goodreads for the early copy of this one.
A Catholic Priest, a guy with Asperger's Syndrome, a woman who was abducted by aliens, and her brother, a felinophile with Tourette's Syndrome, walk into a bar...
Either the start of a joke, or a synopsis of The Good Luck of Right Now, a new book by Matthew Quick. Quick is the author of The Silver Linings Playbook. 'Silver Linings' was made into an Oscar winning film. I don't know if this new book will translate so successfully into a film, but as a book, it was exemplary. Somewhere between a koan and a fable, it was nonetheless a novel novel.
The Good Luck of Right Now is an epistolary novel--a novel written in the form of a series of letters, in this case directed to film actor and Free Tibet activist Richard Gere. The protagonist, Bartholomew Neil, is somewhat naive, but very intelligent--though his intelligence is a different type of intelligence. In fact, he seems like a high functioning autistic, like someone with Asperger's Syndrome. He was his mother's primary caregiver as she battled brain cancer, and as her dementia increased, they fell into a game of pretend. She called him 'Richard,' and he pretended that he actually was the actor, Richard Gere. Bartholomew began a correspondence with him, though whether he mails the letters is open to question. He is having a correspondence with Gere--writing letters addressed to him--but also believes they have a correspondence--that the two are one on some level. They share a close similarity, connection, or equivalence. At least in Bartholomew's mind. Along with Richard Gere he also makes frequent mention of Carl Jung (especially his theory of Synchronicity) and of course, the Dalai Lama. Bartholomew is actually very perceptive, though not without certain lacunae.
In fact, there was one thing that I and other readers may figure out from the get go, but Bartholomew remains oblivious. In spite of a certain predictability, the story kept me enthralled. I kept thinking there might be an unforeseen twist, or else even if I could forecast the dénouement, the story unfolded so masterfully that it kept me engaged nevertheless. If parts of the plot were the same old story, there were other very unusual elements that were combined in quite an ingenious manner. For instance, how often in a quest novel is the pilgrimage made to a reliquary of the glass enclosed heart of Saint André Bessette, and Cat Parliment, in Ottawa, where a colony of feral cats once roamed free? The preserved brain of President Garfield's assassin, Charles J. Guiteau, on display at the Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, also plays a pivotal role.
I wonder what Richard Gere would have made of these letters, or what he would make of this book, should his personal assistants ever read it for him and encapsulate its contents into an executive summary? I'll tell him one thing, there is nothing scandalous or libelous in it. It casts him in a very good light. If anything, it places him on a pedestal.
If this book were to be made into a movie, I would cast Justin Timberlake as the young Richard Gere. Wendy, Bartholomew's red haired therapist, would be played by Alicia Witt. Judy Greer would play the Girlbrarian, and Christian Bale would be perfect as her brother Max, the f bomb dropping felinophile. I don't have a clue who would play Bartholomew or Father McNamee, but the Dalai Lama and Richard Gere should definitely be played by themselves, even if only for a brief cameo. I am reminded of the time I saw Richard Gere, his then wife, Cindy Crawford, and his good friend, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, but that story will have to wait for a more appropriate moment. This moment, though fleeting, belongs to Matthew Quick. I will end with a quote from Pretty Woman, a Richard Gere and Julia Roberts film that is strangely pertinent:
Edward Lewis: So what happens after he climbs up and rescues her?
Vivian: She rescues him right back.