Available in bookstores nationwide.
The Good Luck of Right Now tells the story of a recently bereaved 38-year-old man, whose whole word had revolved around his mother. Through a series of deeply intimate, reflective letters written to actor Richard Gere, to whom he feels a sort of cosmic connection, Bartholomew Neil tries to make sense of his life and his future.
Bartholomew has a sweet, innocent outlook on life; he has been very sheltered and yet is well-read and curious. His point of view is this story’s hook; he can be both extremely insightful, and terrifyingly naïve (you wonder how he can possibly survive without his mother taking care of him). Quick endows Bartholomew with a beautiful turn of phrase, so that his letters to “Dear Mr. Richard Gere” at times have an almost lyrical quality.
Bartholomew is an observer, and a watcher. He is forced by his circumstances to become a participant in other people’s lives, from a self-defrocked priest to a therapist in desperate need of therapy, from an f-bomb dropping alien believer to a shy and damaged library assistant, and as he attempts to help others Bartholomew confronts his own insecurities and fears as he finally comes of age.
My favourite character was Max, a devout believer in alien abductions who uses the “f-word” in a way that may put off readers who aren’t comfortable with oft-repeated profanity. For someone described by his sister as “simple minded”, he often had a clarity and sense of joy that I really enjoyed.
The book touches on multiple themes: religion and the mysteries of life, how to define family, mental illness, domestic abuse, belonging, fate, the occupation of Tibet, “normality”, and self-acceptance are all covered in a story that takes the reader on a journey from Philadelphia to Ottawa’s Cat Parliament (it is a real thing). I felt many things while reading Bartholomew’s letters to Richard Gere; sadness, joy, hope, and empathy. By retelling events through Bartholomew’s letters, Quick moves the story along at a good pace, and even though I saw a major plot resolution coming way before Bartholomew did, I was right there with him as discovered a truth about his life, rather than groaning that it was so obvious.
I was expecting a light and fun book; what I got was a book that made me think, made me care about the characters, and made me question some of my own world views. That’s not a bad bargain. I wonder what Richard Gere thinks.
Reviewed by Rachel Moore.
The Good Luck of Right Now
by Matthew Quick
Published by Picador