About the book, The Good Luck of Right Now
• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: Harper (February 11, 2014)
Call it fate
Call it synchronicity
Call it an act of God
Call it . . . The Good Luck of Right Now
For thirty-eight years, Bartholomew Neil has lived with his mother. When she gets sick and dies, he has no idea how to be on his own. His redheaded grief counselor, Wendy, says he needs to find his flock and leave the nest. But how does a man whose whole life has been grounded in his mom, Saturday Mass, and the library learn how to fly?
Bartholomew thinks he’s found a clue when he discovers a “Free Tibet” letter from Richard Gere hidden in his mother’s underwear drawer. In her final days, Mom called him Richard—there must be a cosmic connection. Believing that the actor is meant to help him, Bartholomew awkwardly starts his new life by writing Richard Gere a series of letters. Jung and the Dalai Lama, philosophy and faith, alien abduction and cat telepathy, the Catholic Church and the mystery of women, are all explored in his soul-baring epistles. But mostly the letters reveal one man’s heartbreakingly earnest attempt to assemble a family of his own.
A struggling priest, a “Girlbrarian,” her feline-loving, foulmouthed brother, and the spirit of Richard Gere join the quest to help Bartholomew. In a rented Ford Focus, they travel to Canada to see the Cat Parliament and find Bartholomew’s biological father . . . and discover so much more.
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About the author, Matthew Quick
Matthew Quick is the author of The Silver Linings Playbook, which was made into an Academy Award-winning film, and the young adult novels Sorta Like a Rock Star, Boy21, and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. He is married to the novelist-pianist Alicia Bessette.
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This review is really late, not because I wasn’t finished with the book (I was!) but because as I sat down to write it this morning, canine chaos erupted in my back yard. (My foster-dog had pinned my year-old rottie mix to the ground and was chewing on his flank, then my pointer mix tried to pull her off of him by biting her face. Blood and fur and yelping animals everywhere. NOT an auspicious start to the morning.) So, if this seems a bit disjointed, well, I’m sorry.
I haven’t read (or seen) The Silver Linings Playbook, so I don’t know if The Good Luck of Right Now is written in Matthew Quick’s typical style or not, but I liked the convention of an epistolary novel formed by letters to Richard Gere. It was quirky and innovative and when the book addressed some darker issues, that convention kept things from becoming unrelentingly grim.
I also really liked the characters – Bartholomew seems basically affable and sweet, if obviously not-quite-neurotypical. Father McNamee was a solid presence and the “Girlbrarian” was just amazing (as was her brother).
Having lived through my grandmother’s dementia, I could relate, especially, to those moments when Bartholomew’s mother forgot who he was, or insisted he was Richard Gere. In fact, those scenes played nicely against the eventual road trip to Canada, and the very sweet developing relationship between Bartholomew and Elizabeth.
Bottom line? This novel defies convention, but it’s all the more compelling for doing so, and I’m really glad I read it.
Goes well with Enchilada pie and a tossed salad..