Arts & Culture
12:32 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Book Review: Matthew Quick's 'The Good Luck of Right Now'

Credit HarperCollins

Believing in a destiny can be very addicting. It can add security, and maybe even help the world feel like less of a harsh place. But how do you tell the difference between destiny, luck and just the pure happenstance of living? In Matthew Quick’s new novel “The Good Luck of Right Now” he takes on this question through the character of Bartholomew Neil.

Bartholomew suffers from a form of mental illness which may or may not be autism and is mourning the death of his mother. His mother was his entire life and with her loss he finally has to step out into the real world for the first time alone. Bartholomew wants to believe that everything happens for a reason, including the death of his dear mother and he is always looking for truths to prove that point.

“The Good Luck of Right Now” is in epistolary form -- an old tradition in literature that has found success going back to such classics as “Pamela,” written by Samuel Richardson in 1740.  An epistolary novel is one in which the tale is told exclusively through a series of letters. This form of writing can add a very personal element to a narrative, but also a hint of scandal, since we as readers may feel like we’re reading something we shouldn’t be. While Richardson’s “Pamela” was usually writing to her parents, Matthew Quick has Bartholomew do something a little different and very contemporary. He is writing to Richard Gere…Yes, that Richard Gere.

Richard Gere is Bartholomew’s imaginary spiritual leader and he looks to him for direction in all of his choices. Bartholomew breaks down and analyzes Gere’s life in his search for answers, from his marriage to Cindy Crawford to his effort to free Tibet. He even has visions of the actor. I can’t help but wonder how the real Mr. Gere must feel about this book.

“The Good Luck of Right Now” is filled with imaginative characters like the grieving Bartholomew. From a foul-mouthed man who is mourning the loss of his talking cat to an ex-priest with a massive drinking problem, each struggling individual Bartholomew meets becomes part of his new extended family and his quest for meaning.

There’s a lot about “The Good Luck of Right Now” that I really like–the book feels like a good indie film put to text. I couldn’t help but wish, however, that it was a little longer, a little more fleshed out. And there are few surprises here, leaving you almost wondering how the characters couldn’t see some things coming, especially with someone like Bartholomew who is questioning every decision and every step in his life’s journey.

“The Good Luck of Right Now” is not destined to make literary waves like Richardson’s “Pamela.” But, chances are, you might get a kick out of it. Assuming that you are not a certain actor who starred in the movie “Chicago.”

Current State contributor Scott Southard is author of the novels “A Jane Austen Daydream" and “Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare." More of his writing can be found at his blog, The Musings and Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard.

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