2017-08-24 / Opinions

Book Review

The Good Luck of Right Now
By MATTHEW QUICK
Reviewed by
PEGGY BARNETT

Bartholomew is not quite “all right,” as we say in the South. However, he is very perceptive, and he is unusually kind and tolerant. He is 38 years old and has lived all his life with his mother. He tells his story in a series of letters to Richard Gere.

His mother has just died, as the story opens, after a painful battle with brain cancer. Bartholomew has no other family or friends to help him mourn, but Father McNamee of his church does his best. Richard Gere enters the picture because Bartholomew finds a form letter from him in his mother’s underwear drawer after she dies. He knew that she admired him, and thinks this connection explains why she called her son “Richard” during her last months. They had played “pretend” games all his life, and this was perhaps just another one. “She pretended I was you, Richard Gere. I pretended that Mom wasn’t losing her mind. I pretended that she wasn’t going to die.”

Gere becomes his confidant. He tells him everything, even about the “little man” in his stomach who is always yelling at him and criticizing him. Bartholomew knows better than to tell anyone else about him because they will think he is crazy. The other kids at school had called him “retard” anyway.

Bartholomew spends most of his time at the library where he has researched the life and career of Richard Gere. Learning of Gere’s support of Tibet and the Dali Lama, soon he is quoting words of wisdom from Buddhism and worrying about the monks who are self-immolating. During his many hours at the library he has observed and admired a young, shy woman whom he calls the “Girlbrarian.”

Meanwhile, a young social worker, Wendy, has been trying to help Bartholomew, urging him to participate in group grief counseling. Father McNamee adds to the confusion by dramatically “defrocking” himself in the middle of a church service and then moving in with Bartholomew.

Gradually Bartholomew realizes that he is focusing on the problems of the people who have recently entered his life, including a weird friend he meets at a therapy session. Max is most definitely not all right; his speech is liberally sprinkled with the “f-word.” Bartholomew is pleased to have a friend for the first time and overlooks his language and his belief in aliens from another planet.

The reader is also charmed by these characters, especially Bartholomew. His mother deserved the love and care he gave her, always praising and loving him. She taught him that when something bad happens, something good happens, too, if not to you then to someone else. “And that’s The Good Luck of Right Now. We must believe it.”

When we finish this entertaining book, we believe it, too, and in the good will of many people. Who else would tell us about the Cat Parliament? The Good Luck of Right Now is available at the Mary Willis Library.

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