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The Good Luck of Right Now Hardcover – February 11, 2014
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Quick, the author of The Silver Linings Playbook (2008), provides another offbeat gem populated with eccentric, fallible, intensely human characters. After his mother’s death, 38-year-old Bartholomew Neil, a middle-aged man who has never left home, is at a crossroads in his life. Finding a form letter from Richard Gere buried in his mother’s underwear drawer, he begins a one-sided correspondence with the superstar, triggering a series of events that culminates in a life-altering road trip to Canada with a motley crew of misfits including his secret crush, the girlbrarian; her foulmouthed, oddball brother; and a Catholic priest who has fled his parish. The quartet travels northward in search of Bartholomew’s biological father, and humor, pathos, and quirky bends in the road define their odyssey, making it increasingly clear that it is all about the journey, not the destination. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Considering the megapopularity of the film version of The Silver Linings Playbook, expect high demand for this spiritually fueled midlife coming-of-age novel. --Margaret Flanagan
“A gratifying romp….Fans of The Silver Linings Playbook know Quick’s penchant for emotionally troubled, big-hearted characters, and Good Luck will satisfy those readers and new ones alike.” (People (Three Stars))
“It’s impossible not to love each of these deeply flawed characters….As funny as it is touching, Quick’s latest effort is on par with Silver Linings.” (USA Today, Four Stars)
“A page turner...Easy to read but difficult to characterize. Part fairy tale and part vision quest…[it] could more aptly be called an adult-onset bildungsroman….Quick, a master scene-setter, details Neil’s personal tragedy in prose that is simultaneously funny and devastating.” (Boston Globe)
“Original, compelling, uplifting. Quick celebrates the power of ordinary, flawed human beings to rescue themselves and each other. His writing is shot through with wit and humanity and an ultimately optimistic view of people, without ever becoming sentimental.” (Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project)
“Mr. Quick ventures to the edges of society,...He rewards us with an irresistible urge to think the best of humanity, to understand not only the need to walk in someone else’s shoes but also the altruistic power attained from doing so.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
“Funny, touching, wise, and ultimately life-affirming, THE GOOD LUCK OF RIGHT NOW is quite possibly the greatest feel-good misfit-road story I’ve had the good luck to read. If you loved THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, this book is for you.” (Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain)
“Winningly madcap.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“Everything I relish in a story: a flawed but sympathetic protagonist, a page-turning plot, and a cast of emotionally scarred characters for whom I rooted wholeheartedly. I loved this novel from its quirky and unconventional opening to its poignant, tear-inducing conclusion.” (Wally Lamb, author of We are Water and Wishin' and Hopin')
“A knockout of a book that has something for everyone: humor, wisdom, plot twists, wholly original characters and Richard Gere.” (BookPage)
“Life-affirming….Begins as a character study and morphs into a road novel, blending humorous set pieces-pack a Canadian hotel with UFO abductees and there’s bound to be fun-with poignant revelations about the novel’s main characters. It’s an unabashed tear-jerker.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“[Quick] has a rare skill in portraying characters with mental illness, which, when coupled with his deft hand at humor, produces compelling and important prose….fans of Wally Lamb, Mark Haddon, or Winston Groom will appreciate.” (Library Journal)
“Quick returns to his offbeat, optimistic view of the world as only he can….an endearing celebration of the human spirit….Fans of bestselling author Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook and its Academy Award-winning film adaptation will not be disappointed.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
“Quick, the author of The Silver Linings Playbook, provides another offbeat gem populated with eccentric, fallible, intensely human characters….Humor, pathos, and quirky bends in the road define they odyssey, making it increasingly clear that it is all about the journey, not the destination.” (Booklist)
“Often funny, with humor that arises naturally from Bartholomew’s deadpan, literal view of the world….It’s easy to wish the best for Bartholomew.” (Columbus Dispatch)
“A gentle, wise, poignant and funny story about the nature of reality and the daily strength required of the brokenhearted to live in it. Quick makes no misstep; each scene, each character, each storyline is perfectly realized and seamlessly woven into the narrative….A delight from beginning to end.” (Nashville Scene)
“Quirky, compelling….Reads rather like A Confederacy of Dunces removed 1,200 miles northeast. As with that novel, it’s impossible to come away unamused by The Good Luck of Rights Now’s kindhearted presentation of the misadventures of a damaged soul.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
“This book channels the same screwball sad sweetness we loved so much in Silver Linings.” (GQ.com, "The 8 Books You Need to Know This Month")
“Quirky, feel-good fiction….A whimsical, clever narrative.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“A deeply nuanced portrait of an unconventional family unit, friendships of necessity, and life’s give and take.” (Nylon Magazine)
“Often marked as ‘crazy’ by those around them, [Quick’s] oddball protagonists…say out loud-and act upon-thoughts many of us have had, if perhaps kept inside….[With] The Good Luck of Right Now, Quick has done it again.” (Nashville Tennessean)
“A quirky coming-of-age story….Quick writes with an engaging intimacy, capturing his narrator’s innocence and off-kilter philosophy, and the damaged souls in orbit around him.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The Good Luck of Right Now will inspire and entertain with the power of kindness, love and even the universe….a very enjoyable read for me, so much so that I delayed reading the final chapters not wanting it to end.” (Burlington Times-News)
“A plucky debut novel…Quick fills the pages with so much absurd wit and true feeling that it’s impossible not to cheer for his unlikely hero.” (People on The Silver Linings Playbook)
“Matthew Quick has created quite the heartbreaker of a novel in The Silver Linings Playbook.” (Kirkus Reviews on The Silver Linings Playbook)
“Pat is a fearless narrator; even his most outlandish delusions are so candidly expressed that the reader teeters between fear of heartbreak and the hope that Pat might actually yearn his way into happiness. It’s a charmingly nerve-wracking combination…The book is cinematic, but the writing still shimmers.” (Barry Hardymon, NPR on The Silver Linings Playbook)
“I found him [Pat Peoples] compelling and fascinating, and I found myself not only caring about him but rooting for him unashamedly, which, for an author is, I believe, what they mean by scoring a tour de force.” (Philadelphia Inquirer on The Silver Linings Playbook)
“Tender, appealing…funny and satisfying.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer on The Silver Linings Playbook)
“Friendship, family, connection and discovery intertwine in a marvelous way in this appealing novel. … In refusing to be defeated by pessimism, Pat learns about true silver linings, not pretty happy endings.” (Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness on The Silver Linings Playbook, a Picks of the Year Selection)
“Endearing…touching and funny.… Pat [Peoples] is as sweet as a puppy, and his offbeat story has all the markings of a crowd-pleaser.” (Publishers Weekly on The Silver Linings Playbook)
“Not just a postbag of whimsical letters; it’s also a bildungsroman….A tender tale that manages to be both light-hearted and philosophical.” (Financial Times)
“Grade: A. Picking up a Matthew Quick novel is a lot like going to your favorite restaurant. You just know it is going to be good.” (Boston Herald)
Top customer reviews
Thirty-eight-year-old orphan Bartholomew Neil, a “developmentally stunted” man (according to his grief counselor), writes letters to the Buddhist activist actor Richard Gere after he discovers a form letter from Gere in his dead mother’s underwear drawer. They are sly letters—absolutely sincere on Bartholomew’s ingenuous level, but socially sly from the all-knowing author and the reader’s point of view. For instance, Bartholomew mentions how interesting it is that an actor can be named in an article where the name of the President of the United States is omitted, how an actor’s dinner party can do more for Tibet than a monk burning himself alive, “how it is okay to look at a man on fire on the Free Library’s Internet, but not two naked women licking each other. Who makes the rules? Death is okay. Sex is bad. Mothers must die. Cancer comes when you least expect it.”
Ah, the twisted rules of a society of “normal people” and the unfairness of death.
Bartholomew writes about the “pretending game” we all play—certainly one of my own favorite subjects:
“Life is s***,” my young redheaded grief counselor Wendy says whenever we reach an impasse in our conversation.
It is her default platitude.
Her words of wisdom for me.
“Life is s***.”
When Wendy says that, it’s like she’s pretending we are not bound together by her job, but really truly are friends. It’s like we’re having a beer at the bar, like friends on TV do.
“Life is s***.”
She whispers it even. Like she’s not supposed to say that to me, but wants me to know that her happy talk and positivity are part of her pretending game.
Other than noticing or playing the “pretending game” we humans play, Bartholomew’s other concern is finding where he belongs—his “flock.” To help him navigate life, he has Richard Gere in his head and a reactive angry little man in his stomach. Bartholomew plus a motley crew of friends—a defrocked priest, a cat-loving movie ticket-taker, and a “Girlbrarian” who is recovering from an alien abduction—go on a pilgrimage of sorts.
The humor (from lampooning lingo-spouting therapists, grad student social workers, and other kinds of helpers to glorious mentions of Jungian and Buddhist wisdom), cadence, and obsessions about distinguishing who we are and maybe realizing (a.k.a. experiencing) “the good luck of right now” are so similar to my own obsessions and what I write that I sometimes had the weird feeling that I was reading something written by a middle-aged Buddhist Catholic male alter ego who favored light romantic stories.
Rather than Richard Gere, I had “a little old lady” in my head when I was a child; as I matured, she morphed into something I simply refer to as the Voice. I too have a bully voice (my fearful ego) punching me from the inside out. But the good part of this is that no matter how much pretending is going on, my body never lies to me about what I’m really feeling (positive or negative), so I have a sense of my enduring flaws and what I don’t know and my direction, even in the midst of abject confusion—which is the unarticulated gift of truth that Bartholomew embodies for the reader.
Like Bartholomew, I too often long to find my flock. I sense I’ve found part of it in this romantic little story of a pilgrimage. I’m guessing author Matthew Quick found a flock by writing The Good Luck of Right Now.
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!).