In The Good Luck of Right Now, Matthew Quick haphazardly reassembles the quirky elements that made The Silver Linings Playbook so endearing. The staples of Silver Linings are all there, but they are exaggerated to the point that Quick’s new novel almost reads like a parody of his previous work.
Bartholomew Neil has been left to rebuild his life following the death of his beloved mother. At 38, Bartholomew has always lived at home, never known his father, and has a life that consists primarily of attending Catholic mass and the library. His mother’s favorite actor was Richard Gere, and towards the end of her life, she seemed to believe that Bartholomew was actually the famous actor. The grieving son takes this as a divine sign, and starts writing extensive letters to Mr. Richard Gere in which he bares his soul and compliments the thespian’s efforts for Tibet.
Bartholomew joins forces with a defrocked, alcoholic priest to…well it’s unclear for a while exactly what these two are trying to achieve. Eventually Bartholomew also befriends a vulgar man-child named Max and his librarian sister, and the entire group travels to Canada to find Bartholomew’s father.
Bartholomew Neil is perhaps more troubled than Silver Lining‘s Pat Peoples, and yet by the end Neil is able to function in relative normalcy. After an entire novel of questionable antics and some sort of undiagnosed mental issue, he seems like an entirely different character in the last chapter. Pat Peoples learns to live with his issues. Bartholomew Neil miraculously recovers with no explanation. The new version of Bartholomew consistently comments on the childlike tendencies of Max, when he himself is a grown man who believes that Richard Gere spiritually communicates with him.
Another obvious parallel is the Richard Gere aspect, which initially echoes the charm Kenny G. role in The Silver Linings Playbook. It doesn’t stay charming. By the time Gere starts physically appearing to Bartholomew with considerable regularity, the pity that we once felt for his character changes into more of a concern and an inability to relate.
Max himself is a grating character that the novel could have done without. Don’t get me wrong, the word “f**ck” can be extremely instrumental in literature. When it is literally every other word that comes out of a character’s mouth, however, it loses its effectiveness. In fact, it feels incredibly forced on Quick’s part. Quick seems desperate to separate this book from his YA novels, and the only way he knows how is to overwhelm readers with profanity. Not even profanity, it’s pretty much exclusively through the use of “f**ck.” At least get creative in your desperation, Matthew Quick.
It may be the fact that I listened to the audio version of The Good Luck of Right Now that finally pushed me over the edge. Oliver Wyman is TERRIBLE! All caps and an explanation point, I’m not messing around here. TERRIBLE! Wyman’s main issue is his inability to create a respectable female voice. Some narrators can subtly alter their voice in a way that lets the listener know that the character is a female, even though she is clearly being portrayed by a male reader. Wyman, however, sounds like when a comedian is mocking a former girlfriend. Listen to Dane Cook any time he is portraying a woman, and that is Oliver Wyman. Thus, all female characters in The Good Luck of Right Now are rendered useless and impossible to take seriously.
There are many, many things wrong with this book. It may be worth trying to actually read it, but definitely stay away from the Audible version. On second thought, stay away from it period. There’s way too much wrong with The Good Luck of Right Now for it to be salvageable in any way.