Matthew Quick puts his offbeat touch on ‘The Good Luck of Right Now’

Posted Sunday, Feb. 09, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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by Matthew Quick

Harper, $25.99

Audiobook: Blackstone Audio, $44.99; read by actor Oliver Wyman.

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Fans of bestselling author Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook and its Academy Award-winning film adaptation will not be disappointed with his new novel, The Good Luck of Right Now. Quick returns to his offbeat, optimistic view of the world as only he can.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A defrocked priest, a librarian and two guys in grief counseling meet in a bar. OK, so it’s not exactly that situation, but pretty close.

Bartholomew Neil is almost 40 and has spent his whole life living at home with his single mom. He attends Saturday Mass regularly, frequents the public library and writes down anything and everything he finds interesting and important in a little notebook. He is not a smart man, but he is observant and trusting.

When his mother gets sick and dies, Bartholomew is on his own in the world for the first time. Luckily, fate steps in when he finds a “Free Tibet” letter from Richard Gere in his mother’s underwear drawer. His mother kept calling Bartholomew “Richard” when she got sick. This must be a sign.

The Good Luck of Right Now is told through a series of awkward letters Bartholomew writes to Gere. His litany of letters is extremely personal. He tells Gere things he wouldn’t tell his priest.

Yes, the priest. Bartholomew’s parish priest, Father McNamee, has been a constant fixture in his life. Over the years, Father McNamee shared many family meals with the Neils and sometimes slept on their couch after too much Irish cheer.

Soon after Bartholomew’s mother dies, Father McNamee defrocks himself in front his Saturday-night congregation. He leaves the church and ends up back on the Neil couch, drinking, praying and confusing Bartholomew.

To make matters worse, Bartholomew’s grief counselor has challenged him to go out and find his own flock of friends. Leave the nest. Fly. Staring fiercely at his brown shoelaces, he tells her in his calmest voice, “I am not a bird.” Only to later write, “I am not a bird, Richard Gere. Not a bird. Not. A. Bird.”

But as luck would have it, Bartholomew finds a reason to fly the coop. He learns that his biological father is in Canada. So he sets out on an adventure to meet him. In a rented Ford Focus, he travels with an oddball crew that includes wayward Father McNamee, the “Girlbrarian” whom Bartholomew has a crush on and her F-bomb-dropping brother, whom he met at group therapy.

Once this group of misfits takes flight, the sky’s the limit. No longer grounded, they soar into an endearing celebration of the human spirit. Bartholomew discovers answers in Carl Jung, the Dalai Lama, Richard Gere, the Catholic Church, the Canadian cat parliament and alien abduction. Through his journey of self-discovery, we again discover that little bit of curiosity in all of us.

A quick and easy read, The Good Luck of Right Now doesn’t have a lot of surprise twists and turns. Fortunately for Matthew Quick, this isn’t his first trip down this quirky road. So the joke’s on all of us “normal people” to open our minds and enjoy the ride.

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