All for the love of Richard Gere
Matthew Quick's follow-up to Silver Linings Playbook is all because of Richard Gere.
Bartholomew Neil is a middle-aged man whose entire life revolves around his mum, his church and the library. Then, illness gets the better his mum and she dies. After her death, he struggles to get by on his own, without a clue of where to start. His therapist tell him to “find his flock and leave the nest”, but he has no idea how to begin to learn how to fly.
His search for answers leads him to his mum's underwear drawer, where he discovers a “Free Tibet” letter from Richard Gere outlining the atrocities committed in Tibet by neighbouring China. Bartholomew suspects a connection with Gere when, in her final days,
his mum calls him Richard.
So he begins a journey to find his biological
dad, and his quest leads him
to Canada. Along the way, he's joined by some quirky characters – a “girlbrarian” on whom he has a crush, her foul-mouthed
brother, and a priest who has left his parish.
The book, told in a series of soul-baring letters addressed to Gere, follows the
endearingly deranged Bartholomew and his equally strange friends as they
grapple with life and their struggles with grief. All the characters have their own experiences, beliefs and
philosophies, but their interwoven stories captivate from the start. Bartholomew’s thoughts Catholicism, the Dalai Lama, alien abduction, cat telepathy and other far-out subjects make for an excellent read.
Those who loved Silver Linings Playbook or are fans of the movie should enjoy The Good Luck of Right Now. Matthew Quick’s novel is more than a poignant tale of strangers turning into friends – and later, a family – on their path to self-discovery. It's
something that everyone with a little crazy in them can relate to.
If you’ve ever felt different, or that you didn’t fit in, this is the book for you. It's an entertaining read told with heart, honesty, humour and a voice that feels
real – and not from a high horse by a writer who's seen it all, done it
all, is trying to sound smart or worldly, or is hoping to score another
movie deal. (Though for the record, The Good Luck of Right Now has already got a film option and is currently attached to actress Brie Larson.)
In an interview with Quick, he says the idea for the book came when he received a similar letter and was thrilled at the thought of holding something signed by an actor, even though Quick knew
it was a mass produced form. This set the groundwork for the
novel, that there are people lonely enough to believe Richard Gere would
actually write them a personal letter.
Quick draws us into Bartholomew's world by treading carefully on issues of mental health, anxiety and depression, as the author gives each character a depth that allows them to grow on you, though some seem annoying at first. His writing is light and humorous as he weaves in stories of friendship, family, love and sorrow into his book. You'll want to read the book all over again as soon as you've finished it.