Title: The Good Luck of Right Now
Author: Matthew Quick
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Number of Pages: 304
I got a serious sense of Deja vu reading this because it reminded me of the kind of stuff I write. Except better, of course. This book was delightful, and I definitely want to continue to read Matthew Quick’s work (I also own a copy of Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.)
Bartholomew Neil is an overweight mama’s boy in his late 30’s who has lived with his mom his whole life. He is socially awkward, literal, and probably somewhere on the autism spectrum even though the book never specifies one way or another. When his mom (who he’s considered to have a very co-dependent relationship with) dies of cancer Bartholamew is left hopelessly adrift.
He finds a form letter from Richard Gere, his mom’s favorite actor, while sorting through her underwear drawer- it’s a ‘thank you’ for her monetary support of his advocacy for helping free Tibet. Bartholamew feels a kind of connection to Richard Gere and starts writing letters to him.
Then a bipolar, alcoholic Catholic ex-priest and friend of the family moves in with him and he meets his first real friend, Max, at a grief counseling group. Max might not be the brightest light, but the cat-obsessed potty mouth brightens Bartholamew’s isolated life AND his sister Elizabeth serendipitously turns out to be Bartholamew’s long-time crush, the ‘girlbrarian.’
Bartholamew, Max, Elizabeth, and the former Father McNamee go on a road trip to discover the secret of Bartholamew’s real dad and visit ‘cat parliament.’ Okay, so the ‘twist’ of this book- not a twist at all. I had figured it out within the first ten pages. But I enjoyed the characters and the journey they go on and Bartholamew was a thoroughly appealing and engaging narrator.
I related to his critical and abusive ‘inner voice’ so hard. This isn’t a perfect book. Some of the it feels too ‘quirky,’ and some of the dialogue in particular feels stilted and overly expositional. But I was charmed by it, and I appreciated that it had a neurodiversity vibe without focusing on the character’s diagnosis.
There’s something about a midlife bildungsroman that appeals to me and my own sense of arrested development (even though at twenty-eight, I’m a long way from middle age- unless I die in my fifties, of course.) Not all people ‘come of age’ or have an ‘a-ha’ moment of maturity and perspective gained in high school or as young adults and it’s hard to feel like you’re behind everybody else, struggling to catch up.
Most of Matthew Quick’s books have strong themes of mental health (he wrote the book version of The Silver Linings Playbook, even though the main character in the book has a TBI and not bipolar disorder like in the movie.) I’m looking forward to seeing if he has written more protagonists who are as interesting and sensitively rendered as the one in this book.