Even before he wrote the book, Matthew Quick had the title all penned out. At the time, he had no idea what the title meant. Then one day, as he found himself recounting a few stories, he had that “Aha” moment.
In a recent interview in the National Post, the author referred to The Good Luck of Right Now as “mostly about balance and riding out the rhythms of the universe.” Matthew Quick pegs The Good Luck of Right Now as a book “about the stories we tell ourselves to make it through the day”.
Bartholomew Neil is thirty-eight years old. He’s lived with his mother his whole life, but when she gets sick and dies, he has to come to grips with how to deal with everything and move on with life. For help, he turns to his most trusted friend Richard Gere.
He feels a cosmic connection to Richard Gere in a lot of ways, including the fact that in her final years his mom kept calling him Richard. In addition, he’s found a letter signed by the actor, titled “Free Tibet”. As he takes on the actor’s identity, initially to please his mom, Bartholomew starts to develop a strong connection to the actor.
Bartholomew writes a series of intimately awkward letters to Richard Gere to ask for his help. In doing so, he comes to deal with his own fears and stumbling blocks that prevent him from moving forward.
Matthew Quick has a brilliant ability to connect a multitude of things and make them relevant and compelling. The Good Luck of Right Now takes a profound look at the teachings of the Dalai Lama, philosophy, catholic faith, Jung and even alien abduction.
Matthew Quick also manages to perfectly balance a protagonist who is quirky but believable and we root for Bartholomew until the end of the book.
Although earlier on in the novel, the letters to Richard Gere felt redundant and formulaic, as I continued to be consumed by the novel, my opinion shifted. Piece by piece the puzzle of Bartholomew Neil comes to fruition and we can’t help but get swept away by his insightful (yet esoterically critical) way of looking at the world.
“(In this case, the fact was this: homeless men are not supposed to speak to people with homes – especially in a confident manner.) Facts are not always as important as pretending. Pretending gave that man the power he needed that day to speak his mind. Most of the government employees will never speak their minds, which is why they are so afraid of the homeless man.”
“If only more people pretended for good causes. … The problem is madmen do all of the pretending and action taking. Have you noticed this?”
The letters provide an unconventional writing style, that is both fresh and charming, and also provide the backdrop for a heartwarming story of a misfit who tries to get through another day.