The Good Luck of Right Now
Bartholomew Neil has lived with his mother all his life and has never held a job. Others consider him to be mentally challenged, and the little man in his stomach gets quite angry whenever anyone calls him ''retard." He tries very hard to be a good person, and often ponders why some people seem to have good luck while others seem to have none. He spends much of his time at the library researching whatever topic interests him at the moment and watching a young woman shelving books. He harbors a secret crush on her and, in his mind, has dubbed her "Girlbrarian." When his mother dies of brain cancer, longtime family friend and parish priest Father McNamee moves in with Bartholomew. The priest has recently defrocked himself, and spends his time praying for hours on end or drinking heavily. Father has bipolar disorder and refuses to take his medication.
"Reading THE GOOD LUCK OF RIGHT NOW is a bit similar to riding a roller coaster blindfolded. The reader has no idea what will be revealed on the next page."
Bartholomew begins grief counseling, and in a yellow room, the counselor introduces him to Max, who is grieving over the death of his beloved pet of 15 years, a calico cat named Alice. Max uses some form of the f-word in every sentence, perhaps suggesting that he suffers from Tourette's syndrome. The two grieving men go out for a beer at a pub. Upon learning that Girlbrarian is actually Max's sister, Bartholomew realizes he now has an actual chance to speak to the woman of his dreams. Is it synchronicity that Max and Elizabeth are siblings? Elizabeth is a library volunteer, the victim of a violent assault, and a believer in aliens.
This quartet of misfits --- Bartholomew, Father McNamee, Max and Elizabeth --- plan a road trip to Montreal and Ottawa. Father McNamee assures Bartholomew that he will meet his father in Montreal. His mother had told him long ago that his father was killed by a hate group because of his religion. This new information --- that his father might be alive in Montreal --- is difficult for Bartholomew to accept, but the idea of actually traveling somewhere, anywhere that is not Philadelphia, is certainly exciting. And Max and Elizabeth will be going along because Max absolutely must visit the Cat Parliament in Ottawa. Cat Parliament, really? This will be a most unusual trip.
This motley crew of travelers is somewhat reminiscent of another group of fictional characters --- Dorothy and her assorted friends who were bound for Oz. The novel tackles some pretty heavy questions: What is the meaning of life? Is there a possible balance between good and evil, and can a person be good and yet do evil things? Is one religion right, and does that make other religions wrong? Bartholomew certainly has a lot to think about. He pours out his thoughts, doubts and questions to actor Richard Gere regularly in letters. It seems to help, even though he knows he will never mail any of those letters. He imagines the advice Richard might suggest, and this gives him confidence.
Reading THE GOOD LUCK OF RIGHT NOW is a bit similar to riding a rollercoaster blindfolded. The reader has no idea what will be revealed on the next page. One minute you are snickering over the description of the yellow room where it is safe to tell all, and the next you are a bit annoyed by Max's foul-mouthed rants. After Bartholomew tenderly recalls his mother's philosophy that life is made up of good, small moments, a senseless vandalism occurs at Bartholomew's home and the mood of the story abruptly changes. Matthew Quick (author of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK) has a vivid imagination, a knack for creating believable characters, and the ability to keep the reader engaged in the story.
Reviewed by Carole Turner on February 14, 2014