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The Good Luck of Right Now

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Call it fate. Call it synchronicity. Call it an act of God. Call it . . . The Good Luck of Right Now. From The New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook comes an entertaining and inspiring tale that will leave you pondering the rhythms of the universe and marveling at the power of kindness and love.

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.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published February 2, 2014

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About the author

Matthew Quick

9 books5,028 followers
Matthew Quick is the New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook—which was made into an Oscar-winning film—and eight other novels, including We Are the Light, a #1 Indie Next Pick and a Book of the Month selection. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages, received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention, was an LA Times Book Prize finalist, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, a #1 bestseller in Brazil, a Deutscher Jugendliteratur Preis 2016 (German Youth Literature Prize) nominee, and selected by Nancy Pearl as one of Summer’s Best Books for NPR. The Hollywood Reporter has named him one of Hollywood’s 25 Most Powerful Authors. Matthew lives with his wife, the novelist Alicia Bessette, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

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Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,290 reviews120k followers
February 24, 2022
I wondered if faith were not a form of pretending
You’re in Luck! Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook, has written an incredibly moving story, populated with his usual range of damaged, quirky, lovable characters, but containing a core of significant philosophical substance.

A man called “Q”

Bartholomew Neil is 38 years old. He keeps a journal of interesting things. He has never held a job. He has lived with his mother all his life, and the two have always shared a close bond. His father has never really been in the picture. Bartholomew can probably be found somewhere on the autism scale. Although he has never spoken to her, he is smitten with a young lady at his local library. He calls her the Girlbrarian. He has an angry man in his stomach who keeps telling him awful things. He has no friends, but he has a young grief counselor, although she has troubles of her own. After a prolonged illness, Mom passed away. For the first time in his life, Bartholomew must take care of himself, a fledgling who needs to grow a pair…of wings.

The Good Luck of Right Now is the story of how Bartholomew creates a new family/home/life/nest for himself out of the shards of the past and the flotsam of the present.

The cast’s oddities are based in their personalities and in their troubles, and there is plenty of damage to go around. Mom is, well, dead. Not much to be done about that. Father McNamee is not just their local parish priest, but a close friend of the family. The padre has issues of his own, and after not hearing God speaking to him for a stretch, decides, from the pulpit, to chuck the collar, and pursue what he believes to be his personal mission from God. And he’s not even one of these guys.

from Wikimedia

If Father McNamee is not enough, how about Bartholemew’s new friend, Max, who charmingly uses expletives as adjectives, nouns, and verbs, particularly the f-bomb, and has issues with paranoia, particularly as it pertains to therapists who may or may not be alien abductors.

The Girlbrarian completes the core cast, a quiet, but very dedicated library worker, several steps further outside the norm than that other librarian you may have heard of. She is very retiring, and with good reason

The story is told by Bartholomew, writing letters to his more or less imaginary friend, Richard Gere (think Woody Allen in Play it Again, Sam). Mom had been a huge fan, and in her waning days imagined that Bartholomew was someone other than who he was. Bartholomew played along, pretending, for her sake. Now, he writes to Gere as if they were buds, telling him about his life and ongoing challenges.

from www.japanese-buddhism.com

He may never have taken care of himself before. He may begin this journey friendless. He may communicate with a person who has no idea he is alive. He may have more than his share of oddities, but Bartholomew is a good egg with an outsized heart, an admirable openness and an eagerness to learn, and to help others.

But there is so much more than quirkiness and warmth to this novel. As with Silver Linings, there is consideration for how one faces the downsides of our existence. Is there some sort of balance in the universe? What is worth dismissing and what is worth believing in? And can believing, or pretending make it so? Where does delusion leave off and faith begin?
Like the haloed saints depicted in stained glass at Saint Gabriel’s, Mom seemed to be guided by divinity. Her madness appeared holy. She was bathed in light.
Some part of Bartholomew believes that Richard Gere cosmically reads the letters he writes. And a part of his affection for Gere has to do with Gere’s Buddhism and alliance with the Dalai Lama. His one-sided communications are reminiscent of how the prayerful might feel about a favored saint. Father McNamee believes that God has spoken to him, and hopes He will again. He spends long hours on his knees, in prayer. Max believes in aliens, and swearing. Others believe that bad and hurt people will get better with counseling.

Lest one think there is nothing but sunshine here, let me disabuse you of the notion. Bartholomew has come in for the sort of treatment one might expect from moron bullies confronted with the unfamiliar. His home has been the object of unpleasantness as well. In fact there is a fair bit of abuse across the cast of characters here, all off-screen. It is how they cope with life’s challenges that is at issue, not the obstacles per se.

You might want to keep an eye out for avian references. I counted thirteen, but stopped counting after a point. They permeate, and work well to illuminate character and events. And if you are fond of cats, there is one scene in particular that is at least as uplifting as a good scratch behind the ears.

Madison 554
My nominee for a star turn in the role of Max's cat, Alice, is the female who shares my bed almost every day, the sultry calico, Madison

Toss in some human organs on public display, and peculiar therapeutic environments for good measure.

455 x 799
Charles Guiteau’s brain

Brother Andre’s Heart from HolyCrossUsa.org

What’s not to like? Very little. There is an event in which Bartholomew’s advisor offers guidance that seemed to me outside the realm of the likely. Just what the Good Luck of Right Now consists of is explained in the book. It has to do, generically, with there being some balance in the universe, but I will not dump details here. I must say, though, that, I do not think this particular philosophical view stands up to close scrutiny, at least not to mine. Yet it certainly is an uplifting, and comforting way of looking at the world, and very much informs the characters and actions of this tale. One can look at the world through one’s own lens and still appreciate the landscape as seen through Quick’s.

This book is a delight, well-paced, moving, (yes, you will need tissues) and content-rich.

You might even feel, when you get around to reading this, that your luck will have taken a turn for the better.

Published - February 11, 2014

==============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages

Canadian Parliamentary Cats -

Here's a video of Q talking about the book

2/12/14 - Here is a radio interview of Q by local radio institution Leonard Lopate - most definitely worth a listen

Full, well, partial, well, at least a little disclosure
While I can be bought, this review is not evidence of the fact. I received the ARE from my Book Goddess (no, not Madison) who works at HarperCollins. The opinions expressed here are mine alone.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews292k followers
December 16, 2013
I got this book as a birthday present from a very kind friend - thank you, Tatiana!

And hell, I don't really know where to start. There's something about Quick's characters that just gets to me. It's happened with every book of his that I've had the pleasure of reading - Sorta Like a Rock Star, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and now The Good Luck of Right Now - and I'm not sure how easy it will be to put it into words. His characters aren't ones you find often. They're unusual. Memorable. Quirky. But they're not quirky in a recycled, John Green kinda way. They manage to simultaneously be complete weirdos, but also seem to make more sense to me than most of the "sane" or "normal" people one might encounter.

This book introduced me to several people and I know I won't be forgetting any of them for a long time. Quick creates moments that are all things - funny, sad, memorable, weird - and rips apart the molds and cliches. He deals with issues like the death of a family member or sexual abuse but puts his own spin on the tales that have been told a million times. He's not cliche because he doesn't simplify emotions or characters into one thing. Losing your mother is sad, of course, and Bartholomew Neil must deal with that sadness in this story, but he also must deal with the practicalities of wondering who actually pays the bills. He must reevaluate his life without a person who was a central figure in it. He must decide whether to worry about fate and destiny or just give in to the The Good Luck of Right Now.

There's no doubt about it - this book is a touch bizarre at times. The entire story is made up of letters written to Richard Gere (yeah, the actor), which shouldn't work and yet somehow does. The character list is made up of the (presumably autistic) Bartholomew Neil; a foul-mouthed cat lover who believes in aliens called Max; Elizabeth - Max's sister and the woman Bartholomew longs to ask out; and an alcoholic priest with more than a few skeletons in his closet. They make an unlikely and wonderfully charming crew. The novel is well-balanced between the lighthearted and whimsical - a refreshing change after the darkness of Quick's Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock - and the darker aspects that the characters must overcome.

Synchronicity plays a big part in the general theme of this novel. It's interesting to read it after reading She Is Not Invisible, as the two books both tackle a similar idea. I think Marcus Sedgwick hung too much on the science/philosophy and had me waiting for a climax that was never going to come - because there are no answers to the philosophical questions being asked. Whereas, with Quick's novel, it doesn't really matter whether or not you believe in the existence of balance in the universe. It doesn't matter if you think that something good happens for every bad thing that happens, it still stands by itself as a powerful, moving and incredibly funny story. And it's one of those books that demands you finish it in one sitting.

I'm scared at how high my expectations are becoming for Quick's future novels, but I honestly cannot wait for him to write more.
Profile Image for Maciek.
558 reviews3,271 followers
March 8, 2014
The Good Luck of Right Now did one thing which I liked - introduced me to the Canadian Parliamentary Cats. It is quite a story - to keep Parliament Hill in Ottawa rodent-free, groundskeepers kept and cared for various stray cats which did the job all the way until the 1950's, when they were replaced by chemicals. Afterwards the staff did their best to keep up with the Canadian stereotype and did a totally awesome thing - established a sanctuary for the stray cats instead of kicking them out on the streets (or worse). The sanctuary was funded and managed purely by volunteers until 2013, when the shelter was closed and the last stray found a new home. This is a very heartwarming (and true!) story, which totally made my day all better and helped restore a bit of faith in humanity.

I can't say the same about the book, however. The Good Luck of Right Now is the story of Bartholemew Neil, a 38 year old man who has lived all of his life with his mother, who has just died. Although it's never stated outright, Bartholemew is suffering from an autism-like condition: having lived his whole life with a mother who cared for him he has no social life to speak of, and doesn't know much about relationships between people. To cope with grief and ease the pain of living on his own, Bartholemew writes his ordeals down in the form of letters addressed to Richard Gere - whether he actually sends them is another matter altogether. The letters reveal Bartholemew's struggle to find a place to belong, and along the road he will meet many other characters best described as peculiar, and the road itself will take him as far as the aforementioned Cat Parliament in Ottawa.

I can ee The Good Luck of Right Now being well-loved by readers, and I can see it soon being adapted into a movie. The novel has all the necessary ingredients of a popular bestseller: a likable protagonist with whom we can sympathize and for whom we want to root for, a selection of quirky and weird background characters which will amuse and interest us, and a story os personal struggle and discovery to which we all can relate and which will touch all the right strings for most readers.

I'm not one of them. What didn't work for me are the characters - I had trouble connecting with or caring about any of them. Basically, everyone in this novel is quirky, special, peculiar and distinct - from the kind and naive Bartholemew who nonetheless has moments of great eloquence and understanding, to the supporting cast - a man who believes in aliens and cannot speak without using the word "fuck" every three seconds, an awkward girl whom Bartholemew calls the "Girlbrarian", a defrocked alcoholic priest with a whole bag of secrets, etc. Basically, Quick makes sure to make his characters removed from boring, ordinary people but forgets that there can be too much of a good thing, and this is exactly what it is. The sole exception I can think of is Bartholemew's counselor, Wendy, and I wish that the novel had more space devoted to her. Wendy struck me as the one genuinely human person in the whole book, and one which shows that life is not always happy and things don't always end well. Which was the other thing which let me down in the novel - the convenience of little things: Bartholemew never needs to worry about his bills and other stuff which bothers us ordinary humans - so tht he and his merry crew can engage in a pilgrimage to the cat sanctuary in Ottawa, and learn about themselves in the process. Perhaps I'm the only one bothered by that, but I'm more interested in these little things - how characters have to lie their ordinary lives AND discover themselves, cope with grief, find their place in this world, etc. Anybody can be quirky and special if they're got their rent paid and have a magic wallet which never runs out. There's never a sense of any real danger or consequences hanging over anyone, and we can be sure that all will end well.

To sum up, I wouldn't really recommend the book as it's one of those which can be read quickly but forgotten even quicker (and I swear this wasn't my try at making a quick pun - who am I fooling? God, I am terrible!). But I bet it will sell well, and will appeal to lovers of quirky characters on quirky quests, until the next book with quirky characters on quirky quests pop up, and in the end they all will melt down in memory into a single entity and the individual titles will no longer be recognizable.

Profile Image for Darlene.
370 reviews132 followers
September 19, 2017
If you told me you were reading a novel about a 38-year-old man-child who had been living with his mother in Philadelphia until her recent death from brain cancer ; and that this same man spends his days in the Free Library writing in his 'Interesting Things I Have Heard' notebook while trying to work up the courage to say hello to a young woman whom he calls the 'Girlbrarian', it wouldn't take me long to guess that you must be reading a novel by Matthew Quick. Matthew Quick, the author of The Silver Linings Playbook and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock famously writes novels featuring quirky... and yes, you might call them odd... characters; but never make the mistake of assuming his stories are silly. Instead, Matthew Quick's novels are both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

In this novel, The Good Luck of Right Now, we meet Bartholomew Neal... a 38-year-old man who has just lost his mother to brain cancer. It's very apparent from the opening sentence of the novel that Bartholomew is NOT a typical 38-year-old man.... he is probably living with an intellectual disability of some kind. And although he assures himself that he is not feeling grief over the loss of his mother and that he is relieved she is not in pain, Bartholomew has begun spending each day writing letters to Richard Gere.... yes, Richard Gere, actor and friend of the Dalai Lama. Bartholomew has gotten the idea that Richard Gere is a kind of alter-ego and a gift bestowed on him by his dying mother. At the end stage of her illness, Bartholomew's mother, who had been a big fan of the actor, had begun calling him 'Richard'. Bartholomew, although confused by his mother's mistake, came to view it as something meaningful.. a sign of some sort left by his mother. In his first letter to Richard Gere, he wrote...... "Maybe you are meant to help me, Richard Gere, now that Mom is gone. Maybe this is all part of her vision-her faith coming to fruition. Maybe you, Richard Gere, are Mom's legacy to me. Perhaps you and I are truly meant to become WE."

Despite Bartholomew's assurances to his parish priest, Father McNamee, that he is coping with his loss, the letters he pens to Richard Gere tell a much different story. His letters are filled with loneliness and fear.. what will become of him now that he is truly alone in the world? But Bartholomew continues to go through the motions of his daily life.. attending Sunday Mass at his parish church, St. Gabriel's, visiting the library and dreaming of finally speaking to the 'Girlbrarian' and spending time with Wendy, his grief counselor... until one day, his life appears to turn upside down once again. Father McNamee shows up on his doorstep seeking shelter after he very publicly 'defrocks' himself during the homily at Mass. In short, he has no place to live. Father McNamee's decision (which will make sense much later in the story) triggers a cascade of events which will change Bartholomew's life in ways he could not have imagined.

Bartholomew goes on to have a fortuitous meeting with a man named Max who happens to be seeking grief counseling too. Max, grieving over the loss of his cat Alice, is like Bartholomew in ways separate from their grief. Max is also a bit unusual.... he curses almost constantly, believes in cat telepathy, wears tektite crystals on a chain around his neck to protect him from being abducted by aliens, has a lifelong dream of visiting Cat Parliament (there really WAS such a place) in Ottawa and oh yeah... he just happens to be the brother of the 'Girlbrarian', whose real name is actually Elizabeth.

Bartholomew had been taught by his mother that life possesses a certain synchronicity.. that things somehow happen at the time when you are most in need. It was what she called 'the good luck of right now.' and Bartholomew was sure he was experiencing this very thing at the time HE needed it most. Bartholomew, Father McNamee, Max and Elizabeth were all broken people in one way or another and all found themselves adrift and alone in the world, but in the 'good luck of right now', they realized that maybe they could be there for each other... become the family they each needed. As Bartholomew reminded himself in one of his final letters to Richard Gere... 'The universe has put you in this exact position for a reason. Now is your moment... The Good Luck of Right Now."

I don't know that I personally believe in this supposed synchronicity in life... the good luck of right now; but the possibilities inherent in such a philosophy of life hold a great deal of appeal. The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick made me laugh.. and cry... and best of all, it inspired a little spark of hope that maybe there really COULD be a kind of synchronicity in the world in which events and circumstances finally come together and people can find what they need most.
Profile Image for Bianca.
1,024 reviews883 followers
September 22, 2019
Some books I feel I should have liked, even loved, but I don't.

I shouldn't have liked The Good Luck of Right Now as it's got way too much Catholicism for my liking, as many characters are devout practising Catholics. There's also a Catholic priest and two siblings who believe in aliens. Religion and aliens are definitely not on my favourites list.

The amazing thing is that I enjoyed this novel very much. Incredibly enough, it's not preachy! Also, there's a good dose of healthy questioning of god and a few Christian concepts.
Kudos to Matthew Quick's phenomenal talent and kind mind.

This has been the third novel by Quick that I read. Each and every one was different in style, plot and characters. His novels have something in common - quirky characters, all outliers because of different reasons.

In this case, Bartholomew Neil is a thirty-nine years old virgin, who has never had a job and who has lived all his life with his mum. He was bullied at school and called names, including "retard". He likes to write things in a notebook. He also likes going to church and spends numerous hours at the library, where he's watching a librarian, who he surreptitiously fell in love with, although he never dares talk to her. He's named her "Girbrarian". How cute is that!

Following his mum's death, Bartholomew discovers in his mum's closet a 'Free Tibet' signed letter from Richard Gere. Yes, the actor. His mum was besotted with him and together they spent countless hours watching Richard Gere's movies. So, Bartholomew takes to writing to Richard Gere, seeking his guidance, spiritual and otherwise. A great deal of the novel is written as very long letters addressed to Richard Gere. It's very well done.

One can't help but feel for the poor Bartholomew. He's so lonely and extremely naive. He's got a heart of gold, but that rarely counts for much in the real world. But fate, or maybe synchronicity, has other plans.

I'll leave it a that, I've given away too much.

Mathew Quick yet again charmed me, surprised me and enticed with his wonderful characters and what is an uplifting story.

I can't wait to read more by him.

NB: Oliver Wyman's narration was top-notch.
Profile Image for Antoinette.
737 reviews32 followers
May 2, 2019
I am a sucker for endearing characters and Bartholomew is certainly a lovable, memorable addition to the oeuvre of memorable characters.
Bartholomew is 38 years old when his mother dies- he has never had to cope with anything on his own till now- How is he going to move forward?
His mother had always said to him".....Whenever something bad happens to us, something good happens-often to someone else. And that's the Good Luck of Right Now. We must believe it. We must. We must...."
How Bartholomew moves forward and the people who come into his life was heart wrenching at times, but oh so perfectly written.
This book made me believe in the Good Luck of Right Now and the goodness of people!!
Profile Image for Robert.
Author 10 books419 followers
August 21, 2014
I should have written Richard Gere more letters. Heck, I should have written him one letter. One long diatribe where I offered up all of my feelings and emotions, thoughts on the Chinese government and Tibet, and all the women who have entered my life and then exited en masse, telling my story in a series of letters over a period of months or maybe it was years (I forgot), but if my source of inspiration for writing said letters is rifling through my mom’s underwear drawer, I’m glad I completely missed that memo.

If you like quirky characters that have a penchant for four-letter words, a woman who may be emotionally available through the aid of multiple therapy sessions, and a man who at thirty-eight years of age has no idea how to live without his mother, then sister have I got the story for you. You may want to sit down for this one, and read it while under the influence of prescription medication, otherwise you might smile at inopportune moments, like your neighbor’s funeral, or the sendoff of your favorite goldfish.

If Matthew Quick in any way resembles his characters, then he has more than a few quirks, and from my previous experience with playing in my own sandbox, there’s nothing wrong with a few idiosyncrasies. In fact, life hands you a Benjamin Franklin every time you come up with wonderfully original ones. If you don’t believe me, just ask Bartholomew Neil, or maybe you’re better off speaking with Matthew Quick. Either way, just make sure you wash your hands first.

THE GOOD LUCK OF RIGHT NOW had me galloping toward the finish with my hands up in the air. Without too much effort, I can safely say my enjoyment reached both hands, and then my brain, as I waited with bated breath for what I might discover within the confines of the next letter. If I were to dangle out on a limb in the middle of a windstorm, I might even call it inspiring. But that’s the kind of deduction you should make on your own, while not under the influence of prescription medication.

Cross-posted at Robert's Reads
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,007 reviews354 followers
January 28, 2020
Voa Bart, Voa...

Bart é pássaro que nunca deixou o ninho! Desde que se conhece que vive com e para a mãe. Nunca teve emprego nem tão pouco vida social.
Quando a mãe morre, gerando um buraco negro no que fôra outrora a sua existência,


o Farol da sua vida desmorona-se em estilhaços!...

E agora? Que fazer? Que rumo tomar?
Uma resposta é certa:
Está na hora do pássaro voar!...

Nesta estória sentimos como o Universo parece munido duma Inteligência própria, que se compadece dos mais aflitos, tecendo uma rede capaz de amparar as quedas mais vertiginosas!

Os Desafios acontecem e com eles os meios para os superar. Se nos mantivermos à superfície, sem submergir às emoções negativas, certamente que poderemos contar com discernimento q.b. para os alcançar!

Uma leitura deveras cativante, que nos remete para a Rede Cósmica, onde as múltiplas vidas humanas se cruzam e interagem!
Profile Image for Roula.
483 reviews137 followers
December 14, 2016
ενα πραγματικα υπεροχο βιβλιο που με αναλαφρες καταστάσεις και μπολικη δοση χιουμορ θιγει πολυ σημαντικα θεματα οπως την πορεια μας προς την ουσιαστικη ενηλικιωση, το πως αντιμετωπιζουμε την απωλεια και το υποσυνειδητο μας , αλλα κυριως το πως πρεπει να μαθουμε να ζουμε "εξω απο το κεφαλι μας" , στον πραγματικο κοσμο που ειναι τελικα ομορφος παρ'ολες τις δυσκολίες και που τελικα διακατεχεται απο ισορροπία αρκει να το πιστεψουμε..ειναι το αγαπημενο μου είδος βιβλιων και το απολαυσα απο την πρωτη ως την τελευταία σελιδα❤❤
Profile Image for Chris Craddock.
250 reviews53 followers
August 4, 2016
Asperger's Syndrome, meet Tourette's

A Catholic Priest, a guy with Asperger's Syndrome, a woman who was abducted by aliens, and her brother, a felinophile with Tourette's Syndrome, walk into a bar...

Either the start of a joke, or a synopsis of The Good Luck of Right Now, a new book by Matthew Quick. Quick is the author of The Silver Linings Playbook. 'Silver Linings' was made into an Oscar winning film. I don't know if this new book will translate so successfully into a film, but as a book, it was exemplary. Somewhere between a koan and a fable, it was nonetheless a novel novel.

The Good Luck of Right Now is an epistolary novel--a novel written in the form of a series of letters, in this case directed to film actor and Free Tibet activist Richard Gere. The protagonist, Bartholomew Neil, is somewhat naive, but very intelligent--though his intelligence is a different type of intelligence. In fact, he seems like a high functioning autistic, like someone with Asperger's Syndrome. He was his mother's primary caregiver as she battled brain cancer, and as her dementia increased, they fell into a game of pretend. She called him 'Richard,' and he pretended that he actually was the actor, Richard Gere. Bartholomew began a correspondence with him, though whether he mails the letters is open to question. He is having a correspondence with Gere--writing letters addressed to him--but also believes they have a correspondence--that the two are one on some level. They share a close similarity, connection, or equivalence. At least in Bartholomew's mind. Along with Richard Gere he also makes frequent mention of Carl Jung (especially his theory of Synchronicity) and of course, the Dalai Lama. Bartholomew is actually very perceptive, though not without certain lacunae.

In fact, there was one thing that I and other readers may figure out from the get go, but Bartholomew remains oblivious. In spite of a certain predictability, the story kept me enthralled. I kept thinking there might be an unforeseen twist, or else even if I could forecast the dénouement, the story unfolded so masterfully that it kept me engaged nevertheless. If parts of the plot were the same old story, there were other very unusual elements that were combined in quite an ingenious manner. For instance, how often in a quest novel is the pilgrimage made to a reliquary of the glass enclosed heart of Saint André Bessette, and Cat Parliment, in Ottawa, where a colony of feral cats once roamed free? The preserved brain of President Garfield's assassin, Charles J. Guiteau, on display at the Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, also plays a pivotal role.

I wonder what Richard Gere would have made of these letters, or what he would make of this book, should his personal assistants ever read it for him and encapsulate its contents into an executive summary? I'll tell him one thing, there is nothing scandalous or libelous in it. It casts him in a very good light. If anything, it places him on a pedestal.

If this book were to be made into a movie, I would cast Justin Timberlake as the young Richard Gere. Wendy, Bartholomew's red haired therapist, would be played by Alicia Witt. Judy Greer would play the Girlbrarian, and Christian Bale would be perfect as her brother Max, the f bomb dropping felinophile. I don't have a clue who would play Bartholomew or Father McNamee, but the Dalai Lama and Richard Gere should definitely be played by themselves, even if only for a brief cameo. I am reminded of the time I saw Richard Gere, his then wife, Cindy Crawford, and his good friend, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, but that story will have to wait for a more appropriate moment. This moment, though fleeting, belongs to Matthew Quick. I will end with a quote from Pretty Woman, a Richard Gere and Julia Roberts film that is strangely pertinent:

Edward Lewis: So what happens after he climbs up and rescues her?

Vivian: She rescues him right back.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,714 reviews2,241 followers
April 5, 2014
Bartholomew has always lived with his mother, with who he has a close relationship. His father’s never been a part of his life that he knows of. Bartholomew is different from other 38 year old men, with no real clue how to organize or prepare for a life of one’s one. We used to have a slightly younger man in my old neighborhood somewhat like Bartholomew that would always smile and wave, perfectly friendly, but his lack of social skills made conversation with him somewhat awkward. Bartholomew’s best friend besides his mother is Father McNamee. He lives a relatively quiet life, with his biggest adventure being regular trips to the library so he can watch Girlbrarian file books back on the shelves with just the right touch of respect.

Then his mother passes away, and life is never the same for Bartholomew. And even Father McNamee seems to be having his own struggles, God hasn’t talked to him lately and it’s wearing on him, but as a friend of the family he is determined to help Bartholomew get his life in order and through the good Father, Bartholomew ends up in therapy, where he meets his new best friend Max.

The story is told in parts through letters in a journalistic fashion to his good friend Richard Gere, whom he writes to often. Charming, poignant letters of his struggles almost always with a tone of “What Would Richard Gere Do?” It’s quirky, it’s different, maybe even odd, but then so again is Bartholomew. It’s also allows you to see what a big heart he has, for everyone.

Inspiring and moving, I loved reading this book so much I hated to put it down even when I was finished.
Profile Image for Fabian.
940 reviews1,545 followers
January 27, 2021
When a band of misfits learn that they are a band of misfits--together! The only way to cure their assortment of emotional ailments is coming together and finding each other.

The mother-son relationship reminds me of Confederacy of Dunces: two codependent souls live under one roof. But what happens when one of them is missing? Not the comedy of a small rickety home with bigger than life characters, but the opposite: a tragedy (but all tragedies in modern day are comedies, right? Because of the irony of modern character that should no better) with people whose existences dwindle.

The heart of the novel, which surprised me in its exploration of nearly defunct topics like Catholicism and Being a Neighbor. In Philadelphia, the maudlin comes on as quick as the beautifully drawn out conclusions by our hero, Matt. Any time you have a bona fide whiskey priest, you got something nearing The Power and the Glory by Greene--but modern. I can see this as a film--with actors too pretty to do the ugly duckling motif justice. But I would definitely watch it!
Profile Image for J.
275 reviews3 followers
October 31, 2016
Note to start: I won this through First Reads. Thanks Harper. On with the review.

I feel like I might be a bit of a minority in my opinion of this book, particularly since Matthew Quick is such a "hot" author since Silver Linings went massive. But anyway, I have to say I'm not overly impressed, though this is the first book I've actually read by him. The Good Luck of Right Now isn't really a bad book, it's just not the sort of thing that really caught my attention all the way through even though I did finish it in about a day. It's the type of book that's not super heavy on throwing ideas at you but rather building the background (beginning), giving you the idea (middle), and then putting it into some sort of action (end). The Good Luck of Right Now itself is the actual idea Quick explores and it's beautifully described in what is about the best chapter of the book in my opinion.

We meet Bartholomew Neil who is learning to cope without his mother who has recently died of brain cancer (no real spoilers, promise. It's in the first five or so pages of the book). To do so he starts writing letters to Richard Gere and whether or not the actor is being sent them is another question but is not inherently important to the story. What is important is that we see how Bartholomew goes about the process of coping with his grief and the people that become his flock including a somewhat temperamental priest, a grief counselor, a library volunteer and her questionably sane brother. An intriguing group of characters to be sure. This is a book about beginnings and endings and all the struggles in between.

What I didn't quite get into was that I had a hard time really connecting with any characters. At some point we find out that Bartholomew may not be an entirely trustworthy narrator. We also must sit through some of Max (the questionably sane one) ranting with the use of the f-word thrown in about every third word or less. I'm not an overly sensitive reader, but it got tiring after one page and then three more of reading it over and over at one point to the effect that I actually lost track of what Max was saying that sounded kind of important. The other issue is that while the idea is eventually explained in the book it takes a long time to get there. This isn't even a particularly long story, but it feels longer than necessary sometimes. Our narrator, however consistent or not he is, has grand moments of eloquence that follow on moments of apparent naivety or lack of self-introspection. He's not overly inconsistent, but enough so that the narrative flow feels off balance at times.

In the end I felt a bit flat with The Good Luck of Right Now. Fans of the author will love it, I'm sure. This just wasn't something I found myself connecting to on a deeper level or really suggesting to people. The device of writing to Richard Gere didn't exactly grow old, but it did sort of disappear at times until we were jarred back into remembering that's how Bartholomew's been coping with his loss. Good in a kind of uplifting way for me, I guess, but not much else.
Profile Image for Iris P.
171 reviews202 followers
July 10, 2015

Listened to this audiobook on my commute to and back from work and it was truly delightful.
I found the dialogue and its characters (especially Bartholomew of course) witty, funny and inspiring.

There's also something to say about a writer that can find fun within religion and religion practices (in this case Catholicism and Buddhism) while still maintaining a sense of respect to it.

This book didn't changed my life but it made a few commuting hours pretty entertaining.
If you enjoy the author's charming and highly successful The Silver Linings Playbook
you'll probably like this one as well.

Profile Image for Betsy Robinson.
Author 9 books1,020 followers
December 22, 2015
This is a book of letters—a sweet, lightly written epistolary novel.

Thirty-eight-year-old orphan Bartholomew Neil, a “developmentally stunted” man (according to his grief counselor), writes letters to the Buddhist activist actor Richard Gere after he discovers a form letter from Gere in his dead mother’s underwear drawer. They are sly letters—absolutely sincere on Bartholomew’s ingenuous level, but socially sly from the all-knowing author and the reader’s point of view. For instance, Bartholomew mentions how interesting it is that an actor can be named in an article where the name of the President of the United States is omitted, how an actor’s dinner party can do more for Tibet than a monk burning himself alive, “how it is okay to look at a man on fire on the Free Library’s Internet, but not two naked women licking each other. Who makes the rules? Death is okay. Sex is bad. Mothers must die. Cancer comes when you least expect it.”

Ah, the twisted rules of a society of “normal people” and the unfairness of death.

Bartholomew writes about the “pretending game” we all play—certainly one of my own favorite subjects:
“Life is shit,” my young redheaded grief counselor Wendy says whenever we reach an impasse in our conversation.

It is her default platitude.

Her words of wisdom for me.

“Life is shit.”

When Wendy says that, it’s like she’s pretending we are not bound together by her job, but really truly are friends. It’s like we’re having a beer at the bar, like friends on TV do.

“Life is shit.”

She whispers it even. Like she’s not supposed to say that to me, but wants me to know that her happy talk and positivity are part of her pretending game.

Other than noticing or playing the “pretending game” we humans play, Bartholomew’s other concern is finding where he belongs—his “flock.” To help him navigate life, he has Richard Gere in his head and a reactive angry little man in his stomach. Bartholomew plus a motley crew of friends—a defrocked priest, a cat-loving movie ticket-taker, and a “Girlbrarian” who is recovering from an alien abduction—go on a pilgrimage of sorts.

The humor (from lampooning lingo-spouting therapists, grad student social workers, and other kinds of helpers to glorious mentions of Jungian and Buddhist wisdom), cadence, and obsessions about distinguishing who we are and maybe realizing (a.k.a. experiencing) “the good luck of right now” are so similar to my own obsessions and what I write that I sometimes had the weird feeling that I was reading something written by a middle-aged Buddhist Catholic male alter ego who favored light romantic stories.

Rather than Richard Gere, I had “a little old lady” in my head when I was a child; as I matured, she morphed into something I simply refer to as the Voice. I too have a bully voice (my fearful ego) punching me from the inside out. But the good part of this is that no matter how much pretending is going on, my body never lies to me about what I’m really feeling (positive or negative), so I have a sense of my enduring flaws and what I don’t know and my direction, even in the midst of abject confusion—which is the unarticulated gift of truth that Bartholomew embodies for the reader.

Like Bartholomew, I too often long to find my flock. I sense I’ve found part of it in this romantic little story of a pilgrimage. I’m guessing author Matthew Quick found a flock by writing The Good Luck of Right Now. And by reviewing it, maybe I’ll expand the flock to other solitary Goodreading birds.
Profile Image for Jonathan K (Max Outlier).
607 reviews111 followers
November 20, 2021
Love surfaces in curious places

I became a fan after reading Silver Linings Playbook, which like this is filled with dysfunctional characters. Bartholomew loses his mother to cancer after spending his life by her side without ever knowing his father. Since her favorite actor was Richard Gere, the story is told in letters he writes to him, which is not only dysfunctional but funny! Quick's humor becomes laugh out loud when we meet Max at a grief counseling group. His favorite word being f**k, he grieves over Alice his cat. Rather than spoil the story, it's engaging, heart warming and quirky and definitely lives up to its title. A great choice for all those who appreciate the value of love and how it turns up when least expected.
Profile Image for Diana.
297 reviews22 followers
September 21, 2022
This is my first Matthew Quick book and it seems to me he has a way with quirky characters who jump off the page. I could see and hear the characters very clearly in my mind as I read. The characters are so deeply human and the pages flew by as I wondered what they would possibly do next!
Profile Image for Jennifer Masterson.
200 reviews1,111 followers
April 27, 2014
I purchased this book after I found out that it was written by the author of "The Silver Linings Playbook ". I loved it! 4 3/4 stars from me. It's extremely quirky, crazy and I absolutely adored the main character, Bartholomew. I enjoyed every page of this very fast reading book. I Highly recommended it.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,559 reviews2,535 followers
July 13, 2015
I love epistolary novels generally, and this is quite a fun one in that the letters are all addressed to Richard Gere. Bartholomew Neil, 39, recently lost his mother to a brain tumor. As she descended into dementia, she started calling her son ‘Richard’ and, figuring she was mistaking him for their mutual favorite actor, he decided to run with it – making Gere a sort of alter ego, imaginary friend, and hallucinated Buddhist guru.

Bartholomew has never had a job apart from taking care of his mother, so now all of a sudden he has to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. Luckily he has help from a motley band of losers: self-defrocked Father McNamee, bubbly grief-therapist-in-training Wendy, cat-obsessed group therapy partner Max and his sister Elizabeth, the shy “Girlbrarian” Bartholomew’s had a crush on ever since he first saw her at the library.

If you saw (or read) Silver Linings Playbook, one of my favorite movies of recent years, you’ll recognize Quick’s lighthearted treatment of themes of mental illness and loss. None of these characters are what you might call ‘normal.’ Bartholomew seems slow-witted and socially naïve (mild autism?), and the others suffer from bipolar disorder, alcoholism, Tourette’s, domestic violence, and PTSD. With the exception of the Tourette’s (you’ll hardly ever have encountered the F-word so often in a novel), I thought Quick gave quite a sensitive portrayal of each condition.

Bartholomew works well as the narrator because he is inquisitive and observant (for instance, he keeps an “Interesting Things I Have Heard” notebook). He’s also surprisingly alive to spiritual realities. Thanks to the Richard Gere connection, the novel is full of quotes from the Dalai Lama, but Bartholomew also takes inspiration from Jung and from the Catholic tradition he grew up in. Apart from any formal religious system, though, the most potent influence is his mother’s modest understanding of how the universe works. She pictured a world in cosmic harmony, such that bad luck anywhere is balanced out by good luck somewhere else. So even when the novel depicts rather shocking acts of vandalism and brutality, the “good luck of right now” means that there is corresponding beauty and virtue elsewhere. It’s very simple, but in some ways a hard philosophy to accept, and I’m not sure Quick convinced me.

I’ve only doled out three stars because, although the novel is very funny in places (you need only read through the list of chapter titles to get your first laughs), it turns predictable and tails off in the last third, despite the promising prospect of a Canadian road trip / pilgrimage. I also thought it was uncannily similar to The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion): the 39-year-old autistic narrator with the humble goal of having a successful date with a woman, plus the hunt for a character’s real father.

All the same, I appreciated the Philadelphia setting (I went there for the first time this spring) and warmed to the message that we silly humans are flawed and baffled pretty much all the time, and just have to do the best we can – with the help of any family we find or make for ourselves – to make it through. As Father McNamee’s prayer goes, “See us through the riddles of our individual lives and help us see the beauty of our...perpetually stumped nature.”
Profile Image for Sanda.
168 reviews83 followers
November 21, 2014
I have a definite fondness for oddballs, misfits, underdogs and all similarly quirky characters. So it comes as no surprise that I usually enjoy books that revolve around or feature such characters. So The Good Luck of Right Now was right up my alley.

Bartholomew Neil life around revolved around taking care of his mother. Now almost 40, socially awkward and kind of lonely, Bartholomew has to face the reality of his existence without his mother in it. After his mother death, he makes a surprising discovery among her belongings, in the form of a typewritten generic letter from her hero, actor Richard Gere. Towards the end of her life his mother, confused by dementia, his mother used to call him Richard sometimes. And Bartholomew let her. Now he sees this letter as a sign. A sign to start writing letters to Richard Gere, who becomes not only his sounding board but also his fictive "guru".

Though initially lonely Bartholomew is far from alone. First there is Father McNamee, his local parish priest, who seemed to have traded his faith in God for faith in overindulgent alcohol consumption. Then there is Wendy, Bartholomew's grief counselor, who seems to be more troubled than her client. So she refers him to Arnie, a therapist who facilitates group therapy session in his vividly bright yellow office. Except that the group has only one other member - slightly paranoid character named Max, who has great affinity for profanities and is dealing with his own grief. And of course then there's Bartholomew's romantic interest, the Library Girl.

Through his monologues aimed at Richard Gere and his interactions with other characters Bartholomew tries to work through his grief, find his place and purpose in the order of things, and potentially untangle the mystery of his permanently absent father. Heartwarming and funny, his story and his journey make for a quite pleasurable read. Not quite The Silver Linings Playbook but almost there. And not surprisingly on its way to movie adaptation.

Profile Image for Snotchocheez.
595 reviews322 followers
August 15, 2014
3.5 stars

"Do you enjoy Richard Gere movies?" I asked.

"Richard Gere?
Richard fucking Gere?" Max said. "Fuck Richard Gere! What the fuck, hey?"

No, this is not Andrew Dice Clay's standup comedy routine comeback. This is a snippet of dialogue between two extremely damaged dudes in Matthew Quick's formulaic (yet, inexplicably affecting) The Good Luck of Right Now. (Inexplicable, given it's not much more than a retooling of his earlier Silver Linings Playbook, a book I didn't much care for.)

I'm not sure why this book moved me so. I guess it was my ability to connect with protag Bartholomew Neil (unlike Silver Linings' Pat Peoples, whose plaints were, to me, like chalk skritching on chalkboard) and his inability to interact with the rest of the world after being creepily tied to the hip with his ailing mother for much of his adult life. Bartholomew's path to self discovery after his mother's passing, though on the surface seemed somewhat sophomoric and gimmicky (a sort of John Green-esque fairy tale for flawed adults...or who can at least relate to flawed adults), connected with me in a way that Silver Linings could not. Even the above-cited Tourettic Max (total buffoon caricature who Bartholomew meets in grief counseling) kinda grew on me by the end.

I wouldn't exactly call this high art, but this homage to dysfunctional mama's boys, Philadelphia, Richard Gere (!) and (happily for me) ailurophilia is consistently engaging (if slight and frothy, and derivative of Quick's older works).
Profile Image for Mary.
644 reviews1 follower
February 16, 2014
"You are my confidant, Richard Gere, and I'm not about to share my pretending with anyone, because pretending often ends when you allow non pretenders access to the better safer worlds you create for yourself."

Bartholomew Neil's mother dies of brain cancer. In thirty-eight years, Bartholomew has never lived alone, never held a job, never had a date with a woman or a beer with a buddy. He doesn't know how to survive in the world without his beloved mother. When he discovers a form letter from Richard Gere in his mother's underwear drawer, he starts writing to the actor as a way of dealing with his grief. Those letters form this book.

The book is populated with quirky characters: a defrocked alcoholic priest, a foul-mouthed cat lover, a damaged "Girlbrarian," a grief counsellor with her own problems. Bartholomew himself is a likeable character, sometimes gifted in his observations, sometimes alarmingly naive, and his search to find a place to belong, people to belong to is sometimes touching, but slow, very slow, and not altogether realistic. The physical action of the story is a trip to Cat Parliament in Ottawa, and if I'm honest, I don't want to go there in real life, so I don't want to go there in fiction. In short, I was bored. I seem to be in the minority on this one though, so maybe it's just not the right book for me, and I should stick to historical fiction.

Thank you to Goodreads FirstReads and Harper Collins for a copy of this book to read and review.
Profile Image for Nicole.
566 reviews16 followers
February 26, 2014
Ummmm - I'm really not sure what to think of this book. There's quirky - which worked in The Silver Linings Playbook. And there's troubled - which worked in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. So, yes. I'm a fan of Matthew Quick. But this one. Huh? Quirky + Troubled = Weird. Letters to Richard Gere, a bipolar priest, the rape of a house and the quest for Cat Parliament. Uh huh - shake your head in wonder. This is the storyline of The Good Luck of Right Now.

There were some redeeming qualities - of course. It's Matthew Quick, after all. But overall, I just felt like it was a hot mess and way too odd: Too many odd characters, circumstances and storylines for me to buy into quirky and it just came off instead as weird.

So no - not one I'd recommend. Will try another Quick again, though.
Profile Image for Stacy.
826 reviews1 follower
November 9, 2014
3 1/2 stars.

Bartholomew is a strange, yet well-meaning guy who is trying to figure out what to do with his life after taking care of his cancer-stricken mother.

Along the way, he meets some other strange, but other well-meaning characters: Wendy, a counselor who could use some counseling, a recently defrocked priest, and a guy whose every other word is the F-word.

While this book was depressing at times, I did like the progress of the characters. I did think some of the characters were a bit over-the-top for even this book.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,415 reviews7,430 followers
February 18, 2014
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

3.5 Stars

Bartholomew has spent his entire life with his mother. He has never had a job, never had any friends, never had any responsibilities. When Bartholomew’s mother dies, he finds himself with no idea how to cope. His grief counselor tells him he needs to come to terms with his mother’s death, which he attempts to do by writing letters to her favorite actor, Richard Gere.

What a strange little novel. Although it pales in comparison to the magic that is The Silver Linings Playbook, I once again found myself questioning what exactly is wrong with Quick? Where does he get ideas like “whenever something bad happens to us, something good happens to someone else. And that’s The Good Luck of Right Now” and how can he turn those ideas into books that I want to read? How can he write these emotionally damaged characters so well? How can he make me connect to Bartholomew (and Pat and Leonard) after reading just a few pages? How can he write a character that kind of reminded me of Norman Bates – the severe co-dependent relationship with his mother, and after her death his “friendship” with Richard Gere

- thankfully without all the

and make me kind of love him a little?

The answer to all of the above questions? Quick writes about finding the fairy tale. Even when the happy ending is something as simple as having your first drink at a bar with a woman you like. And his characters? As Bartholomew’s mother would say – they are all “just a little off. Off in the best of ways.” Quick is an author who makes me RUUUUUUUUUUN to the library to pick up his latest work.

He also makes something regrettable happen to me each time I read one of his novels. Sometimes it happens right at the start, or in this case I made it almost all the way to the end, but then . . .

I hate when that happens.
Profile Image for Helene Jeppesen.
685 reviews3,643 followers
May 24, 2015
This was my first book by Matthew Quick and I quite enjoyed how accessible it was. You are thrown into the story from the very first page and you get to know the characters through letters to Richard Gere. You cannot help but love the protagonist, Bart, who is 39 years old, has some mental problems and has been living with his mother for his entire life. In this book, his mother dies, and Bart has to learn how to live by himself.
This book is very silly at times, but it also contains some serious topics like abuse, mental problems and cancer. I liked how Matthew Quick surprises you with the turns the story takes once in a while. I did see the big twist coming but that didn't decrease my reading experience because I found the twist very suitable and endearing.
I say that this book is silly because it does exaggerate at times. Expecially one character became too obnoxious in my eyes because his character traits were exaggerated to the limit. Then there were other characters that I really liked reading about even though they were quite silly at times as well.
This book was very easy to get through and very sweet and entertaining, so if that's the kind of book you're ever looking for then this is the story for you.
Profile Image for Nea.
162 reviews155 followers
October 27, 2014
I'll sum this book up like this: A 38 year old mommy's boy (Bartholomew Neil) with some obvious, undisclosed mental defect spends all of his time writing letters to Richard Gere, seeing visions of Richard Gere and even hearing Richard Gere guide him as some sort of God-voice. When mommy dies, Bartholomew is lost in the world until he makes friends with 1) a bipolar priest, 2) a paranoid guy who says f**k in every single sentence, and 3) a pitiful girl with an alien obsession. I may have at least found this book tolerable (not enjoyable, but tolerable) in the absence of Max. What's the point of a character whose primary distinguishing factor is relentless use of the 'F' word?! Maybe this was meant to be funny, or significant in some way that I totally missed. Quite strange! I am not a prude or someone opposed to saying f**k, but I don't want to read it 60 or so times in one book. I'm just glad this is over. I hope to forget about each of these characters in the next several seconds of my life.
Profile Image for Laura.
743 reviews266 followers
March 4, 2019
Another solid read from Matthew Quick. Do you remember the film "Pretty Woman" from the late 80s (or was it early 90s?). What happens after he climbs up the tower and rescues her? She rescues him right back. This is the theme of this book. Well played, Mr. Quick. Well played.

This one made me laugh out loud several times. It's a very fast read, and I really enjoyed it. A nice escape read for a Sunday afternoon. I'll definitely be reading his other stuff. I've already read (and loved) The Silver Linings Playbook. We connect with Quick's characters because they're probably a bit more insane than most of us reading his books. If everyone was honest with him/herself and people around them, though, we'd find we have a lot more in common with these deeply flawed, lovable characters than we typically admit. A recommended read.
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