Friday, 25 April 2014

The Good Luck of Right Now- Matthew Quick

I am possibly the only person in the world who has neither read the book nor seen the film of The Silver Linings Playbook.  I have heard good things about both (and Bradley Cooper-mmmmmm), but have been drowning under review books for so long that I haven't had a lot of time for reading books on my own shelf.

When I saw that Matthew Quick had a new book out I was keen to read it, and The Good Luck of Right Now sounded unlike anything I have read before.  Here's the blurb, which is what drew me to it in the first place...

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.

I mean- how can anyone fail to be intrigued by that?! 

The Good Luck of Right Now is unlike any other book I have read.  Something about Bartholomew's vulnerability left me with a sense of disquiet, and whilst I was turning the pages I had an uncomfortable, heavy feeling inside me.  His letters to Richard Gere bared his soul, giving me an insight into every thought and feeling he experienced.  It is hard to compare it to any other book as it really is one on its own, but it did remind me of how I felt reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. 

It wasn't an easy book to read-infact I almost found it emotionally exhausting and I did have to put it down a few times to have a 'rest' from it.  This is a testament to how well it is written- it evoked such a strong feeling in me.  To say I enjoyed it would be wrong.  However, I was compelled to keep reading and I cared enough about Bartholomew (and other characters in the book, particularly Max and Elizabeth) to invest the energy into reading this book.

I hope this doesn't come across as a negative review, because it really isn't.  The Good Luck of Right Now is a great example of a book where the reader can get completely into the mind of the protagonist-I just found it difficult being inside the mind of someone as misunderstood as Bartholomew Neil.  However, it is also a book filled with hope, Bartholomew's naivety and literal outlook bringing a charm and simplicity into what could otherwise be out and out depressing.

This is one of the hardest reviews I have had to write, because I am sure my opinion of this book will change as I digest it.  It is extraordinary.

The Good Luck of Right Now is out now.


With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book.

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