Tuesday, March 18, 2014

8 Heart Review: The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

The Good Luck of Right Now
Matthew Quick
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Page Count: 304

Release Date: February 11th 2014
Publisher: Harper (Harper Collins)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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.

When I looked into [my mother's] eyes, she didn't seem to see me. It was like she was having a vision—seeing what I could not.
It made me wonder if Mom had used some sort of womanly witchcraft and turned me into you somehow.
That we—you and me—had become one in her mind.
Richard Gere.
Bartholomew Neil.
We.

At thirty-nine, Bartholomew Neil still isn't ready to leave his mother's nest, but when he loses her to cancer, he's left with no other choice. His once-stable, once-routine world—of just him, his mother, and God—crumbles to pieces when one of his biggest role models, Father McNamee, consequently denounces himself from the Catholic church, and in turn, becomes more than just a religious father figure to Bartholomew, by becoming a human being.

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

Love

I listened for God's voice, but all I heard were the birds.

I wondered if maybe I should tell Father McNamee about you, Richard Gere, but for some reason I didn't—and I'm not going to either.

You are my confidant, Richard Gere, and I'm not about to share my pretending with anyone, because pretending often ends when you allow nonpretenders access to the better safer worlds you create for yourself.

I'd like for us to be secret friends, Richard Gere.

I think I can learn from both you and Father McNamee, and I'd like to keep those two worlds separate for now. Like church and state... Separation of church and state. Not that you are my state, because you are not. And, evidently, Father McNamee is no longer my church either.

Your admiring fan,
Bartholomew Neil

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 Americanflag

8 hearts: An engaging read that will be worth your while; highly recommended (x)