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The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick



Highlights: Bartholomew's journey is rather remarkable. His sincerity along the way seems beautifully constructed.
Synopsis: After the death of his mother, Bartholomew Neil finds a letter to Richard Gere in one of her drawers. This sparks Bartholomew to begin a series of letters to the famous actor. Bartholomew struggles to connect with anyone or anything. Things begin to look up after he goes to a counselling session. With help from a group of equally troubled but determined characters, Bartholomew tries to find his way.



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Quick's story is unusual and wildly fun. Finding a novel similar to it is nearly impossible.


Some readers might find the novel’s setup—a series of letters to actor Richard Gere—juvenile.

Posted May 5, 2014 by

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When something bad happens to us, something good happens—often to someone else. And that’s The Good Luck of Right Now. We must believe it. We must. We must. We must.

“Dear Mr. Richard Gere” is how Matthew Quick’s second novel for adults, The Good Luck of Right Now, begins. It’s not a one-time hello to the famous actor; instead, Mr. Gere gets a salutation at the start of every chapter, or letter. Although this epistolary work initially comes across as lightweight and even gimmicky, Quick, slyly and with assumed genuine intentions, continues to carry even the weariest of readers along. The reason they stay is undoubtedly because of Quick’s dynamic underdog, Bartholomew Neil.

Bartholomew is pushing forty, and he is alone. His mother, with whom he’s lived his entire life, has recently died from brain cancer. He has no other known family. He has no job. He has nothing. Instead of falling into an emotional pit from which he cannot escape, he turns to writing to Richard Gere—yes, the famous actor. The reasons for choosing Gere as his recipient are simple:  Gere is the closest thing to his mother that he has left. Bartholomew and his mother would watch the actor’s movies to escape their troubles. Bartholomew recognizes his trouble, so retreating in his chosen way is rather natural.

Besides Richard Gere, who never actually shows up in person, Quick invents a supporting cast of misfits that is purely sublime to encounter. There is Wendy, a fragile counselor; Elizabeth, the “Girlbrarian,” Max, Elizabeth’s cursing brother and cat enthusiast; and Father McNamee, a drinking and troubled ex-priest. Quick makes them believable, albeit Max is a little too cartoonish.

One thing that Quick nails in this novel is how fueling optimism is—and not the kind driven by selfish intent. Quick presents characters that want a better world for those around them. A better future drives so many of us; it certainly is what holds Bartholomew and his band of outsiders together. Before Bartholomew’s mother dies, she tells her son, “We don’t know anything. But we can choose how we respond to whatever comes our way. We have a choice always. Remember that!” Who wouldn’t want that choice of success?

Acceptance plays a leading role in Quick’s The Good Luck of Right Now. Sometimes, we have to lose. At other times, we get to celebrate a victory. Bartholomew presents his take on life:

That in order for someone to win, someone else has to lose; and in order for someone to become rich, many others must stay poor; and in order for someone to be considered smart, many more people must be considered average or below average intelligence; and in order for someone to be considered extremely beautiful, there must be a plethora of regular-looking people and extremely ugly people as well; you can’t have good without bad, fast without slow, hot without cold, up without down, light without dark, round without flat, life without death—and you can’t have lucky without unlucky either.

Bartholomew’s ideology seems so fair; it’s almost too simple. The poignancy of such a passage speaks to Quick’s talent as a writer. We easily accept life lessons from a character as damaged as Bartholomew because we hope that he’s right.

Sometimes, as Quick reminds us, we have to pretend that things are better than they actually are. In that fantasy, though, is where reality finds its footing in so many circumstances. Max and Elizabeth make up a lie because the truth is too heavy for either of them to carry. Their made up secret brings them closer together. Bartholomew, himself, pretends to talk to Mr. Gere, but his fantasy makes him realize his truth. Imagine a world without dreams and dreamers—a world without faith. That’s not a place that lends itself to much of a future.

There is a moment near the beginning of Bartholomew’s story when Wendy counsels him. Outside, they hear birds. She asks her client, “They like being together in a flock. Hear how happy they are? How joyful? You need to find your flock now. Finally leave the nest, so to speak. Fly even. Fly! There’s a lot of sky out there for brave birds. Do you want to fly, Bartholomew? Do you?” From there, I should have known what Bartholomew would achieve. I should have known where the story would go. I should have known it all. I probably did know in the back of my mind, but I decided to pretend that I didn’t. I chose to encounter the world with Bartholomew. He opened my eyes to a better place—one with kindness, hopefulness; a place full of friends.

The Good Luck of Right Now (Hardcover)

By (author): Matthew Quick

From Matthew Quick, the New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook, comes The Good Luck of Right Now, a funny and tender story about family, friendship, grief, acceptance, and Richard Gere—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.

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Release date February 11, 2014.

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick 5.00/5 (100.00%) 6 votes

Bradley Sides

Bradley Sides is a graduate of the M. A. in English program from the University of North Alabama. His fiction appears in Belle Rêve Literary Journal, Birmingham Arts Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, Freedom Fiction Journal, Inwood Indiana, and Used Gravitrons. He is a contributor to Bookkaholic. He resides in Florence, Alabama, with his wife, and he is actively seeking representation for his debut middle-grade novel.


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