Words: Chris Booth
Giving you a new perspective on life
I must admit, I don’t know how to describe The Good Luck of Right Now. There are so many intricate details that all my English Literature training cannot seem to assist me in critically examining this book… That’s not to say that this book isn’t good, it just means that it’s very complex. So let me start off by stating the simple facts about this fascinating novel.
“From the best selling author of The Silver Linings Playbook”
Matthew Quick’s newest book, published earlier this year, explores the experiences of a simple-minded thirty-eight year old man as he deals with the death of his mother – a mother that he spent his entire life living with. Soon after her death, Bartholomew (the protagonist) discovers a ‘Free Tibet’ pamphlet, signed by Richard Gere, in her sock drawer. For some reason, he decides to write to this famous actor. The novel is made up of a series of letters that he has written. The author also wrote Silver Linings Playbook, and The Good Luck of Right Now also examines an aspect of mental illness, and the restrictions that this places on people.
At face value, this novel brings back reminiscences of books such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. This is due to the fact that all three novels explore the minds of mentally-stunted people, highlighting how different they are from others and how the way in which they function is something alien to most. However, this novel seems to break the trend of these books and becomes something much, much deeper.
I think what surprised me most was just how much I related to the main character, and not in a ‘I-am-just-like-this-guy’ type of way, but in a ‘this-guy-is-tapping-into-some-universal-truth’ kind of way. Indeed, at the beginning of the novel, you distance yourself from the protagonist as his belief that he is actually seeing and corresponding with the actor Richard Gere can be quite unnerving. But as the novel goes on, you realise that Bartholomew is picking up emotions and thoughts that ‘regular’ people have all the time, but feel terrified to express. Therefore,
the protagonist seems braver and less insane than those characters that he interacts with, making him more real, and thus more honest.
Mid-way through the book, I even felt the sting of tears in my eyes as the protagonist tries desperately to not only understand those around him, but to desperately try to help them. To Bartholomew, the world seems so clear-cut. If you are being abused – move away from your abuser. If you are sad – watch a movie for some ‘movie magic’. All the things that are logical
for most humans. However, his line of thinking is placed in stark contrast to those characters that he comes in contact with – all of them seem highly illogical, and thus, more ‘insane’ and ‘troubled’ than he is. Indeed, Bartholomew presents the reader with a number of logical theories and philosophies that make perfect sense in the real world (even though he got most of these theories from his recently-passed mother).
Overall, this book is truly amazing, and I feel it is a worthy read purely because it gives you a new, and interesting, perspective on life. I recommend that you read this right away – before it gets turned into a major motion picture starring the one and only Richard Gere. (Maybe even earning him an Academy Award like Jennifer Lawrence).