Summary and book reviews of The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

The Good Luck of Right Now

By Matthew Quick

The Good Luck of Right Now
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2014,
    304 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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Book Summary

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.

Excerpt
The Good Luck Of Right Now

Dear Mr. Richard Gere,

In Mom's underwear drawer—as I was separating her "personal" clothes from the "lightly used" articles I could donate to the local thrift shop—I found a letter you wrote.

As you will recall, your letter was about the 2008 Olympics held in Beijing, China—you were advocating for a boycott because of the crimes and atrocities the Chinese government committed against Tibet.

Don't worry.

I'm not one of those "crazy types."

I immediately realized that this was a form letter you sent out to millions of people through your charitable organization, but Mom was a good enough pretender to believe you had personally signed the letter specifically to her, which is most likely why she saved it—believing you had touched the paper with your hands, licked the envelope with your tongue—imagining the paper represented a tangible link to you . . . that maybe a few of your cells, microscopic bits...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Bartholomew Neil fears he is a failure. Is he? How does society determine success or failure in life? Do these measures work for those who are different, like Bartholomew?

  2. At the beginning of the novel, Bartholomew has just lost his mother, and everyone is concerned for his emotional wellbeing. Are their fears misplaced? Do you think Bartholomew is handling his loss well?

  3. Bartholomew tells us that his mother "could make small things seem miraculous." As you come to know about his life, do you agree? How can all of us make the small things in our own lives feel momentous?

  4. Why does Bartholomew decide to write to Richard Gere? How does writing to the actor affect his understanding of his life and the people around him? Who would you "...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

The self-awareness, the humanness of these flawed but beautiful characters makes them just as important to the world as Type A overachievers and we ought to learn to appreciate them. This, plus Quick's lovely, sharp, funny prose, is what makes The Good Luck of Right Now a very worthwhile read.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review Members Only (1189 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Quick writes with an engaging intimacy, capturing his narrator's innocence and off-kilter philosophy, and the damaged souls in orbit around him.

Library Journal

[Quick] has a rare skill in portraying characters with mental illness, which, when coupled with his deft hand at humor, produces compelling and important prose.

Booklist

Quick, the author of The Silver Linings Playbook, provides another offbeat gem populated with eccentric, fallible, intensely human characters….Humor, pathos, and quirky bends in the road define they odyssey, making it increasingly clear that it is all about the journey, not the destination.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A whimsical, clever narrative.

Author Blurb Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
Funny, touching, wise, and ultimately life-affirming, The Good Luck of Right Now is quite possibly the greatest feel-good misfit-road story I've had the good luck to read. If you loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, this book is for you.

Author Blurb Wally Lamb, author of We are Water and Wishin' and Hopin
I loved this novel from its quirky and unconventional opening to its poignant, tear-inducing conclusion.

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Was Jesus Bipolar?

comedy and tragedy masksIn The Good Luck of Right Now, the priest, Father McNamee, is bipolar and chooses to live with it free of medication. "You know Jesus was most likely bipolar...what if Jesus had been medicated?" he says.

According the National Institute of Health (NIH), Mental Health website, "Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depression, is a serious brain illness. People with bipolar disorder go through unusual mood changes. Sometimes they feel very happy and "up," and are much more active than usual. This is called mania. Other times they will feel very sad and "down," and are much less active - depression.

According to the NIH, people with bipolar disorder are often very hard to diagnose since they exhibit other health issues such as drug...

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