Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Good Luck of Right Now

The Good Luck of Right Now
Matthew Quick
3.5 / 5

Published 2014

First Sentence
"Dear Mr. Richard Gere,
In Mom's underwear drawer--as I was separating her 'personal' clothes from the 'lightly used' articles I could donate to the thrift shop--I found a letter you wrote."
Publisher's Description:
Call it fate. Call it synchronicity. Call it an act of God. Call it . . . The Good Luck of Right Now. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook comes an entertaining and inspiring tale that will leave you pondering the rhythms of the universe and marveling at the power of kindness and love.

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, writing Richard Gere a series of highly intimate 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, foul-mouthed 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 his biological father . . . and discover so much more.

Dear Reader,

I just finished this book, so it is still sinking in.  I started it a couple of days ago, so I definitely flew through it, didn't want to put it down.  But...I definitely preferred Quick's more well-known novel, The Silver Linings Playbook (2009) , much better.  It was strange how as soon as I started reading this one, the similarities struck me: the very innocent, not very with-it middle-aged men who were telling their story.  I feel like this is a plot device Quick has used both times now (I don't know about his YA novels), and it started to feel a little stale right away.  I could hear Pat's voice while Bartholomew told his own story.  However, Quick IS good at writing the oddballs, and getting the reader inside their heads.  Plus, as he even self-awarely (is that a word?) points out in this book via Bartholomew, there have to be all those so-called weird people out there to allow for all the "normal" ones to exist, to go about their daily lives.  And I suppose that makes sense.  And perhaps that is why Quick is trying to introduce us to these quiet, under-the-radar lives that he loves to examine so thoroughly.

This book also reminded me of the misfits in movies like Eagle vs. Shark, which I do remember finding adorably quirky when I watched it years ago.  Bartholemew and those who surround him in his offbeat life - particulary the Girlbrarian - have that same similarly loveable-but-slightly-off rhythm to their lives.  And I don't feel like I'm one to judge: I certainly am weird enough, myself, and goodness knows I prefer it that way!  Those who strive to be "normal" bore the heck out of me.  But, still...I guess I'm just not quite as out there as Quick's characters.  Generally they have survived trauma, too, it seems, which might account for a bit of their having "checked out" of real life.  They need to create their own worlds (or, imaginary friendships with Richard Gere) in order to escape suffering.

I was especially eager to read this book because I'd heard it was "about a librarian", although there really isn't even a librarian in this book.  However, I do love how enamored Bartholomew is of his own library, and how much time he spends there.  I love how all of the characters, really, have their quirks and their secrets.  While the novel's arguably biggest "secret" is one which the reader realizes long before it is revealed to the protagonist, it is still interesting to watch the relationships unfold.  (I also loved the concept of enjoying "the good luck of right now" and appreciating that good and bad balance out in the world, in a strange way.)  Ultimately, the characters all help one another heal, and I think that is the most beautiful thing about this book.


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