THE GOOD LUCK OF RIGHT NOW by Matthew Quick

After I saw the film of The Silver Linings Playbook, I was sorry I hadn’t read the book first (now in my TBR pile thanks to Keith Cronin‘s post on WriterUnboxed). So, I purchased The Good Luck of Right Now because I didn’t want to miss out on a good read.

After the death of his mother, thirty-eight year old Bartholomew Neil sets out to find a life of his own with the help of a priest, a “Girlbrarian,” her feline-loving, foul-mouthed brother, and the spirit of Richard Gere. This premise was quirky enough to get me to reshuffle my TBR pile.

I was disheartened early on. I don’t like chapter titles. They chip away at suspense and feel like term paper topic sentences. I also had a hard time accepting Bartholomew Neil was thirty-eight years old. Even after I learned he was mentally challenged I had difficulty seeing him older than college age.

Then Matthew Quick shot an arrow that hit my curiosity bone. Questions pummeled my brain. Was Quick asking us to question our obsession with celebrities? Is it possible that we are all born to do great things, make a positive impact on the world and then sell out because it’s easier?  Here’s the kicker: Why is Bartholomew always nodding?

I nodded because it was the easiest thing to do. 

I nodded because what he was saying seemed logical. 

I nodded because I knew that’s what was required of me. 

There are more variations on that theme. But this specific character quirk was enough to keep me turning pages until the wonder of The Good Luck of Right Now took hold.

Writing is all about choices. Who is the main character? First or third person? How many points of view? Quick’s choice to let the story unfold through the letters Bartholomew writes to actor Richard Gere raised major question marks for me. Why? Why this choice? But all became clear as the situation developed. Letters were the perfect medium because they are intimate. We reveal things in letters we would never share face to face. And since Bartholomew has a hard time talking with people, letters were the best means for him to be open and honest.

It was like looking down and seeing a gaping hole where your stomach used to be and knowing your legs were gone—like Mom and I had somehow each swallowed a live grenade. 

Don’t let the imagery of this passage lead you astray about Quick’s novel. The story drives forward on optimism, not darkness. The hope that gathered within me as I turned page after page reminded me a lot of how I felt when I read Pay It Forward—a book I wish to revisit thanks to Matthew Quick.

I could provide more detailed insight, but some books are best experienced from a place of naiveté. My advice is to not read any more about The Good Luck of Right Now. Purchase the book, open the cover and ride the current. See where you end up. You may not end up in Oz, but the joy of Oz will be in your heart just the same.