Good Minds Suggest: Matthew Quick's Recommended Books on the Effects of Trauma

July, 2017
Matthew Quick

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The author of The Silver Linings Playbook (which was made into an Oscar-winning movie starring Jennifer Lawrence) is back with a dark and humorous novel featuring a bigoted 68-year-old Vietnam War veteran who, following a brain surgery, embarks on a crusade to track down his nemesis from the war.

Through the controversial and wildly honest David Granger, author Matthew Quick offers a no-nonsense but hopeful view of America's polarized psyche. The Reason You're Alive examines how the secrets and debts we carry from our past define us; it also challenges us to look beyond our own prejudices and search for the good in us all.

Here are five books that made Quick reflect on the lingering effects of trauma.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
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"O'Brien writes, 'I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.' Perhaps no one has better documented the need for fiction when trying to capture the truth of a scarring historical event or time period. While writing The Reason You're Alive, I humbly thought a lot about O'Brien's truly heroic effort to truthfully unpack the residual horrors of the Vietnam War."


Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
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"This novel is a Russian-nesting-doll set of pain where several linked tragic characters are all contained within the heart of our narrator. For two decades Toru Watanabe has been trying to come to terms with the mental health tragedies that engulfed and ultimately erased his teenage friends. Haunting, honest, and so human."


A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
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"Given the ghastly child abuse that Yanagihara details, I suffered through this beautifully written novel with growing appreciation, as it bravely asked this question: Are there abuses so damaging that the abused can never fully recover, no matter how much love and understanding they are offered? A Little Life has definitely stayed with me."


Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
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"Bukowski uses alter ego Henry Chinaski to document the loneliness of his own childhood, which took place in the aftermath of WWI and during the Great Depression. Chinaski's alienation sheds light on Bukowski's half-century's worth of poems about how trying and demoralizing it often is to be human."


The Eternaut by Héctor Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López
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"The Eternaut uses the 1950s' Cold War and post-WWII nuclear-holocaust fears as a backdrop for a mind-bending story about time travel, aliens, and the resiliency/ingenuity of the human spirit. Perhaps one of the most unique and enjoyable reading experiences of my life."


Want more book recommendations from authors? Check out our Good Minds Suggest series.



Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Carol (new)

Carol Vorvain Hi,

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message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter Steele If you liked Ham on Rye, You've got to read "Post Office." I've read it twice over the space of 25 years and will probably read it again, I Think it's Bukowski's best look art the human condition in a mind and soul killing job.


Elaine D. Stover Thanks!

Peter wrote: "If you liked Ham on Rye, You've got to read "Post Office." I've read it twice over the space of 25 years and will probably read it again, I Think it's Bukowski's best look art the human condition i..."


message 4: by J (last edited Jul 09, 2017 03:48PM) (new)

J Ah, my niche! A few for the reading list. I'll suggest, in return, Daryl Gregory's We Are All Completely Fine, which hasn't left my mind since the day I read it. The Goodreads summary sounds as if the book might be a little superficial, a little comedic - and it is, at times, with the morbid sort of humor that comes with surviving trauma.

What the summary doesn't hint at is how painfully truthful and powerful it is, as well. I read it for the first time while attending group therapy for trauma myself, and not only did I finish it in one night, but I immediately ordered copies for the rest of the group and reread it twice within the next week.
"The patients among us did not trust each other, and some of them did not trust the doctor. Did she really believe these outrageous stories? And how, exactly, were they supposed to “get better”? What possible treatment plan could there be for people who’d seen the truth? Because most of all what we didn’t trust was the world.

"Dr. Sayer understood this, better than the others could know. She knew—knew—that the universe was full of malevolent creatures, and that there was no protection from them. All the group members, Jan included, were certain to die, almost certainly alone. What the patients didn’t understand was that this was the human condition."



message 5: by Ann (new)

Ann One of the best books I've read in the last year: "The End of Days" by Claire North. I thought the premise was kind of ridiculous ( visits from the Harbinger of Death ), but it was perfect. Made me think.


message 6: by Lynn (new)

Lynn Lamotte Peter wrote: "If you liked Ham on Rye, You've got to read "Post Office." I've read it twice over the space of 25 years and will probably read it again, I Think it's Bukowski's best look art the human condition i..."Thank you for responding. It sounds wonderful, I will get it.

H


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