I found the ARC (advance reading copy) of this at work and I thought, “This sounds like an interesting story. And oh, look. It’s the guy who did Silver Linings Playbook.” I haven’t read SLP still (though I really should), but I enjoyed the movie, so I thought I’d give this a chance.
The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick is messed up, sad, redeeming, and inspiring. It’s the story of Bartholomew Neil, who has just lost his mother to cancer (after living with her for 38 years) and is trying to get his life together. While Wendy the counselor tells him to go out and make a new “flock,” BN is stuck in his routine. Then BN discovers a “Free Tibet” letter from Richard Gere to his mother and, since she called BN “Richard” at the end, he thinks there must be a connection. This prompts the entire story, told through BN’s letters to Richard Gere. In the letters, BN describes the challenges of moving on from his mother’s death, trying to talk to the cute Girlbrarian, questions about faith, and how he’s trying to make his flock. In the end, BN’s flock (the Girlbrarian and her brother, a defrocked priest, and “the spirit of Richard Gere”) joins him on a trip to Canada and all the secrets of the universe (well, some of them, at least) are revealed.
The letters make the reading easy and fun, and BN’s confessions are incredibly sweet. His long-distance love of the Girlbrarian, for instance, is so endearing that you just keep hoping he’ll work up the courage to ask her out. The defrocked priest, Father McNamee, is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking – he wants to help BN, but sometimes it feels like he’s doing more damage than help. And Girlbrarian’s brother, whose every other word is f***, is the same way. Between the four of them (and Richard Gere, of course), it’s a strange family BN is building, but you can’t help but think it’s exactly the family he needs.
So here’s the thing: I started reading this a while back, when I first found it, and I really liked it. I thought, yeah, I’ll enjoy this, and then life happened and I put it down. And last night, after Longbourn and an attempt at The Sound and the Fury (school reading, which will soon be causing a decline in reviews of recreational reading), I needed something else. I saw this sitting on my shelf and I thought, why not.
I was only on about page 35 when I started. I read until 100. I looked at the time. It was almost 10:00. I figured I could read a few more pages. So I read the next chapter.
And then I read the next chapter.
And the next.
Until finally I reached that point where you think, “You only have 75 pages left. You might as well just finish.”
So I did.
There’s so much to love about this book. Really. One of my favorite things about BN is that he constantly mentions Jung’s synchronicity (check out Wikipedia’s short version here). Everything that happens to BN has a meaning behind it, even when he goes to group therapy and meets his crazy cat-loving therapy partner – because Mr. Feline ends up being Girlbrarian’s brother! For BN, everything is connected, and it’s beautiful to read it and think, yes, the universe has a reason for working out the way it does.
About halfway through the book, BN describes a horrible break-in that happened to him and his mother years earlier. The house is terribly vandalized and he’s understandably upset about it. But then check out the response:
“What have I been telling you since you were a boy? Whenever something bad happens to us,” Mom said as she tucked me into my new bed, insisting that I needed some sleep after staying up all night, “something good happens – often to someone else. And that’s The Good Luck of Right Now. We must believe it. We must.”
It’s a beautiful idea and, in the following pages, it gets even better.
Ultimately, when I put this book down last night at nearly 11:30, I did so with a smile on my face. It was sweet, it was meaningful, and it was just a good ending. And yes, it’s kind of predictable, and no, I wouldn’t say it’s the most amazing book I’ve ever read, but it’s just a good book. And if you liked SLP (the book is now on my “Need to Read” list), I think you’d like this.
The Good Luck of Right Now is due out in bookstores this February. Preorder your copy at your local bookstore!