You may recognize the title of this one, as it was on my "Meg's Picks" list for February. Well, I finally got a copy of Matthew Quick's The Good Luck of Right Now, and I have been totally absorbed in it ever since.
Bartholomew knows he isn't like other people. At thirty-eight, he doesn't have a job or friends. His life has been spent taking care of his ailing mother, going to the library, and attending Mass. When his mother passes away, Bartholomew is adrift, seemingly without purpose in his life. He finds a letter among his mother's things, a form letter about the Free Tibet movement signed by Richard Gere. This becomes his talisman, Richard Gere his confidant and imaginary life coach in a series of letters as he, Bartholomew, puzzles through his new life. He works with a grief counselor, sets life goals, learns to be social, and slowly pieces together a motley group as a new family (a defrocked priest, a filthy-mouthed movie-theater worker who is grieving the loss of his cat, a library volunteer who believes she's been abducted by aliens). This unlikely group travels to Canada to see cat Parliament and meet Bartholomew's birth father, but the trip becomes so much more for all involved.
When critics called this book quirky and endearing, they were not kidding. Jung meets the Dalai Lama, philosophy goes hand in hand with faith, the mysteries of women...all are revealed in Bartholomew's long, nakedly honest letters to Mr. Richard Gere. In Quick's previous work, the extremely popular The Silver Linings Playbook, he showed a knack for portraying deeply flawed, intensely human characters in a way that made them immediately, truly knowable to readers. I would say that he is honing his skill, because I was utterly in love with Bartholomew and his new friends, and hated to turn that last page and leave them. I think they'll all stay with me for years to come. Very highly recommended.