BookBrowse Reviews The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Good Luck of Right Now

by Matthew Quick

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick X
The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2014, 304 pages
    Feb 2015, 304 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book



From New York Times best-selling author Matthew Quick comes The Good Luck of Right Now, a funny and tender story about family, friendship, grief, acceptance, and Richard Gere.

Matthew Quick's achingly delightful follow-up to The Silver Linings Playbook is an epistolary coming-of-age story about Bartholomew Neil, a 39-year-old naïf whose only attachment to normalcy - his sainted mother - has just abandoned him. Not her fault. She died of brain cancer. But Bartholomew was with her to the bitter, painful end. And now he's adrift, lost in a world that's not exactly set up to deal with socially stunted, unemployed midlifers. But it's gonna be (no spoilers here) okay, dear reader, because Mom has bequeathed him a house with mysteriously self-paying bills, a letter from movie star Richard Gere and a philosophy intended to mitigate life's ups and downs.

As long as we can suspend disbelief long enough to get an explanation for those self-paying bills, it's not an unreasonable stretch to accept the rest. First, Bartholomew discovers a form letter from movie star Richard Gere in his mother's underwear drawer. The letter urges Mrs. Neil to boycott the 2008 Olympics in China because of that country's position on Tibet and the Dalai Lama. She did of course. And so, based upon that letter, the countless hours she and Bartholomew logged watching Richard Gere's movies, and the actor's suave persona and his devout Buddhism, Neil initiates a one-sided correspondence with him. The letters serve as a clearinghouse for Bartholomew's confusion about his life, post-mother. Joblessness is something he is used to. Momlessness is frighteningly new. He needs all the help, real or imagined, he can get.

He writes, "I am wondering if Mom's boycott, her death, and my finding the letter you wrote her - maybe these things mean you and I are meant to be linked in some important cosmic way."

Besides the letters to the fantasized Gere, Bartholomew calls upon a variety of philosophies for guidance. Primary among them is Mrs. Neil's theory of the (eponymous) "Good Luck of Right Now." Roughly interpreted, this is the idea of balance in all things. A kind of cockeyed, homespun yin/yang. It goes like this: if something bad is happening to you, then something of equal good is happening to somebody else. And vice versa. Which fits neatly with Catholic - which the Neil's devoutly are - guilt. You see, Mrs. Neil always felt a little guilty when she had a streak of good luck because it meant...well, bad luck for someone else. For Bartholomew, this philosophy is interchangeable with the tenets of Catholicism, Buddhism and even Jung's notion of synchronicity. He falls back on whichever borrowed wisdom suits his immediate circumstance. Whatever, as they say, gets one through the night.

And it all works fairly well, mostly due to Bartholomew's naïveté. Because, although Quick never makes it explicit, my uneducated guess is that Bartholomew places somewhere in the very high-functioning end of autism spectrum disorder. Aspergers, maybe? He is fiercely well read and computer literate, but equally fiercely inept in the life skills department. Thus we ache for him, his grief and his loneliness. On the other hand, his makeshift (or make-do) methods of getting on with his life - including taking in a self-defrocked bipolar priest, intervening in his grief counselor's abusive relationship, befriending a cat telepath with possible (again, my diagnosis) Tourette's Syndrome - make him a delightful, endearing character.

Quick imbues his flawed characters with intense self-awareness. The priest, Father McNamee, knows he's bipolar and, while he doesn't relish his disability, he is willing to live with it, med free. "You know Jesus was most likely bipolar...what if Jesus had been medicated?" he says. Bartholomew has an "angry little man" inside him who calls him out cruelly when he commits a social faux pas. There's even a point when Bartholomew reflects on why it's okay - important even - for him and others like him to be "weird, strange, and unusual." He says, "The word normal would lose all of its meaning if it didn't have an opposite."

This sums up, I think, the point of both this novel and Silver Linings Playbook. 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

This review was originally published in March 2014, and has been updated for the February 2015 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Was Jesus Bipolar?

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    by Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness has developed a reputation for experimental literature executed well, and his latest, ...
  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...
  • Book Jacket: A Spark of Light
    A Spark of Light
    by Jodi Picoult
    The central premise of A Spark of Light involves a gunman holding hostages within the confines of a ...
  • Book Jacket: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    by Hank Green
    As one half of the extremely popular YouTube duo "Vlogbrothers" (the other half being his brother ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Paris Echo
    by Sebastian Faulks

    A story of resistance, complicity, and an unlikely, transformative friendship.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim

    Two sisters grow up bound by family but separated by war; inspired by a true story.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

An offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire that is featured on more than twenty 2018 "Must Read" lists!


Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.