The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick, 2014 Harper, 304 pages
This is a tender story about family, friendship, grief, acceptance, and Richard Gere and his movement to free Tibet. From the author of The Silver Linings Playbook, this story will inspire and entertain with the power of kindness, love, and even the universe. One of the characters in this story at one point proclaims “if there weren’t weird, strange, and unusual people who did weird things or nothing at all, there couldn’t be normal people who do normal useful things.”
Thirty-eight year old Bartholomew Neil has lived with his mother all his life. His whole life has revolved around his mother, his Saturday Catholic Mass, and the library. As the story begins, Bartholomew’s mother has been diagnosed with brain cancer and while taking care of her at home, he finds a “Free Tibet” letter from Richard Gere written to his mother asking her to boycott the Beijing Olympics. This explains the one instance in his life where he and his mother did not watch and enjoy every televised moment of the Olympics that year, and also explains why his mother thinks his name is Richard as she lives out her final days in his care. When his mother passes away, he is assigned a grief counselor, Wendy, as he has no idea how to be on his own. Wendy encourages him to set a life goal for himself and his journey begins.
Bartholomew believes he has a cosmic connection with Richard Gere and he begins his new life writing a series of letters to him. His story is unfolded in these letters with talk of the Dalai Lama, philosophy, faith, the Catholic Church, even alien abduction and cat telepathy. It is about mid-way through this story that Bartholomew reveals his mother’s philosophical explanation and belief of “the good luck of right now” to Richard Gere. This belief will help Bartholomew through some cruel times.
The characters accompanying Bartholomew as he attempts to find his place in the world and a family of his own include a struggling priest, a “Girlbrarian,” her cat-loving foul-mouthed brother, and the spirit of Richard Gere. In a rented Ford Focus, the group travel to Canada to help Bartholomew find his biological father and to see the “Cat Parliament.” They find so much more.
As you read this story written completely in letter format you will find a lot of sadness but even more hope. The characters in this story are quirky, perhaps weird, and occasionally use foul language; but they are genuine. This was a very enjoyable read for me, so much so that I delayed reading the final chapters not wanting it to end. Of course, I did read the last chapters and often find myself reflecting on Bartholomew’s life, what Richard Gere thinks, and believing in the good luck of right now.
Cathy Wright is a reference assistant at May Memorial Library. She may be reached at 336-229-3588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.