Pop Culture Princess

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Matthew Quick's latest novel celebrates The Good Luck of Right Now

In his follow-up novel to The Silver Linings Playbook(which was a successful and award winning film adaptation as well), Matthew Quick introduces us to another off-beat leading man in The Good Luck of Right Now.

Bartholomew Neil is 39 years old and has lived all of his life with his sweetly strange yet devoted mother, who did what she could to help him cope with the world. His emotional and social skills were always rather limited from birth yet Bartholomew appreciated the "pretending" that his mom liked to do in order make their lives seem less dreary.

When his mother passes away from a brain tumor, Bartholomew is urged to deal with his grief by working with Wendy,a student social worker who has some issues of her own that she's not dealing with. He is willing to go along with this,as pretending seems to be something that people outside of his comfort zone do just as well as his mom did:

One of the ways that Bartholomew pretended for his mother is when she began to call him "Richard" and since that started right after viewing a Richard Gere movie, he assumed that she meant the movie star and allowed her to think that was he who he was at times.

Upon her death, he discovered one of Gere's "Free Tibet" form letters in her possessions and felt that confirmed their connection. Bartholomew decides to write letters about his life to Richard Gere in a private correspondence that allows him to speak freely to someone about the way things have changed since his mother's death.

 Part of his problem in communicating with others is that harsh inner voice that belongs to "the angry man" inside that constantly mocks him for his failings,much like Gere's character in An Officer and a Gentleman when hassled by his drill sergeant:

His life gets even more complicated as his local priest Father McNamee moves in with him after unofficially resigning from the church,convinced that a message from God will come from Bartholomew. Wendy is less than thrilled with this development but her own situation becomes more dire and in need of intervention from both of these unlikely sources of friendship.

Bartholomew does have "age appropriate" goals ,as Wendy would say,such as making a connection with the Girlbarian, a library assistant whose painful shyness appears to match his own.

Through another unexpected connection,he manages to make friends with her constantly swearing yet cat loving brother Max(who is mourning the loss of his beloved pet Alice) and is slowly but surely hoping to someday give her the "fairytale" that Gere gave to his leading lady in Pretty Woman:

An impromptu trip to Canada(to visit the "Cat Parliament" that Max has heard so much about) offers all of them a chance to clear up a few personal mysteries and examine what to do about the rest of their lives. Bartholomew goes along for the ride in more ways than one and learns to do what he can to be a Richard Gere type of hero,not only for others but himself as well.

While I've never read any of Quick's books before( I did see the film version of SLPB before reading this novel),this heartfelt yet humorous at times novel is a good introduction to his literary style. His particular blend of quirky pathos does true justice to his characters and compels you to become more emotionally invested in their struggles.

While the story does have it's share of sad moments,the spirit of sincere hope for the better prevails throughout the pages and in my opinion, avoids any whiff of cloying sentimentality. The Good Luck of Right Now is available at a bookseller near you and is definitely a great gift to  give to yourself or any other reader in search of a down to earth tale about family,loss and love:

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