The Good Luck of Right Now

Originally published April 2014

It would be fair to say my reaction to this book is wholly affected by a whole-lotta-personal going on right now.

But even people already living Bartholomew’s “fairy tale” will love Matthew Quick’s “The Good Luck of Right Now.” From the author of “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Boy 21,” Quick’s latest is a series of letters written by the book’s protagonist, Bartholomew Neil, to Richard Gere. Yes, that Richard Gere.

Convinced that somehow the mail correspondence will help him sort through the aftermath of emotions following his mother’s death, the almost 40-year-old singleton is in the midst of grief therapy with a minimally-helpful therapist and grappling with his parish priest going off the reservation, literally and figuratively. Father McNamee is now praying on his living room floor and sleeping in his mother’s bed and drinking whole bottles of Jameson’s, all the while Wendy the therapist shows up with bruises all the time and Father Hatchette is visiting and the girl shelving books at the library is the love of his life and oh, if he could only talk to her …

Bartholomew’s journey takes him from his home to the library to the therapist’s office and on a whirlwind trip to Canada, all while navigating relationships with people he barely knows, including his new friend Max. While it’s clear there are some emotional and/or cognitive disabilities at play, they don’t deter from the simple fact that Bartholomew is a man who just wants a friend. And when life’s circumstances seem overwhelmingly difficult to manage, he’s forced to count on both Richard Gere and his mother’s theory, The Good Luck of Right Now, to get by. After a particularly horrible experience, Bartholomew’s mom tries to explain the theory:

“We don’t know anything. But we can choose how we respond to whatever comes out way. We have a choice always. Remember that!” … “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.”

I can’t say much more without giving up the fairly obvious twist, but even if you do figure it out, you won’t be disappointed in the ending. It’s heartbreaking and bittersweet and wonderful all at once.This may be the book you want to read when you really need to believe in something better coming for you, or … it could be the book to hide from. Nonetheless, it’s going to make you think about how you handle adversity.

I want to believe in your theory, Mother Neil. I really do. Just give me some time. It may take a trip to the Cat-Effin-Parliament.

I love books. Books can be my refuge, and they can also make me cry ugly. They make me think, reflect and ponder. Books are amazing.

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