Book Title/Author: The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
Publication Date/Publisher: February 11, 2014/Harper
Source and Format: Received an advanced copy from the publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: 2 stars
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.
The Good Luck of Right Now has many things that should make it a favorite for me – it actually took me a while to decide between 2 and 4 stars – but something in the execution is SO OFF that I have a hard time believing I even made it through this book.
Quirky characters are usually a green light for me – but I think I’m used to in YA and not when the characters are 40. Instead of charming, they are sad and a little scary.
Bartholomew Neil: has Richard Gere as a spiritual guide. Took care of his mother his whole life, up until her death. Unfailingly kind.
Father MacNamee: the Neil family priest. He publicly defrocks himself (literally, and in the middle of service) and suffers from bipolar disorder. He drinks a lot of Jameson, so we could probably hang, religious views aside. Seriously, the extremely brief mentions of the Catholic Church and a struggling priest in the synopsis actually make up a huge amount of the book. As someone who is not religious and thinking I’m reading a book centered more around Karma, it was very off-putting.
Max and Elizabeth: siblings Bartholomew picks up. She was abducted by aliens and is a volunteer librarian, he is in grief counseling after the death of his cat and…just basically obsessed with cats. Half of the road trip the gang goes on is to visit Cat Parliament in Ottawa which made me dream of going there, only to find it closed January 12, 2013 – almost exactly a year before I read The Good Luck of Right Now (coincidence? synchronicity?).
The first half of this book is extremely slow. I thought it was a road trip book, but they spend practically zero time in the car and don’t even start traveling until around the 60% mark.
I waffled on whether or not to even read this after my experience with Silver Linings Playbook, so I think this is just not the author for me. I think it’s an issue with the writing style and the characters – they just don’t sit right with me. At one point, Bartholomew is describing his house being broken into and the pornographic graffiti and other horrible things done to his family’s possessions and refers to this as his house being raped. This is not rape. Only rape is rape. I can’t stand when that is used as a descriptive term for something else.