Dear Matthew Quick,
This note is in response to your recent letters sent to me through my agent. You must understand as a movie actor I get a lot of fan mail and can’t read all of it. However, it was brought to my attention that you also have printed them collected as a book, so I felt I had to respond.
First of all I must say that I loved the movie based on your other book, “Silver Linings Playbook,” though I haven’t read the book yet. And I’m not inclined to if it is also written in letter form. I find epistolary novels very difficult to get into, especially if they are just one side of the correspondence by a self-admitted moron. (Your words, not mine).
At first I was charmed by your obvious interest in my involvement with the Dalai Lama and my attempts – however fruitless – to free Tibet. But I thought it was rather badly researched, and I will send you corrections if you plan another edition. For me, religion is a serious matter, and your letters describe a self-defrocked priest (Is that possible?) who seems to have spent an inordinate amount of time first with your hero’s mother and then with him. He appears to waste his days praying without direction and his nights drinking alone. What does this have to do with Tibetan Buddhism? I’m almost afraid it connects somehow in your mind.
I realize that you are trying to make your reader live more in the moment. That is a noble sentiment. And that’s probably why you picked up on Buddhism, but I must say you haven’t done it much justice with your book. I suggest Carpe Diem might have been a better selection. Then you might have picked on someone more up to date like Russell Crowe as an alter ego and not me.
I’m a little confused how your character could support himself, since he has never worked a day in his life, and is now 39, and his mother is now deceased (I’m sorry for his loss), and whatever source of income she had must be drying up in an expensive city like Philadelphia. Money doesn’t fall from trees.
Wendy, the unlicensed therapist married to an abusive husband is, for me, a dead end. And she is for you, too, since she more or less disappears in midnovel. She appears to have been a way for your persona to meet the character Max, who has what seems like a serious and untreated case of Tourette’s syndrome. I think you could have come up with a better way of meeting him and his sister, the unfortunate librarian you are stalking in the local library.
There seems to be a very unpleasant undercurrent of abuse in this book that pretends to be so light and silly. Wendy is abused by her husband. The librarian was raped. Your protagonist’s house was broken into and defiled. He was himself abandoned by his father when young and is being constantly abused by some critter that lives in his stomach and calls him a moron. By the way, I think that condition can be treated, and he’d almost certainly qualify for Medicaid.
I am happy he finally found out who his father is, but wouldn’t it have been nice if you didn’t kill him off before he could speak? Dramatic moments are rare in a book like this and mustn’t be wasted.
What if Julia Roberts had died of an untreatable staph infection soon after I met her in “Pretty Woman”? I think you’ll agree that wouldn’t have worked as well as the plot we decided on (although it’s close to the original story concept). You’re young and have many novels ahead of you. I’m only trying to help.
And I don’t think trying to write a novel of ideas was a good career choice. The Dalai Lama handbook sections are simply wrong, and Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity is much more complicated than simple coincidence. A quick trip to Wikipedia would have told you that. (No pun intended.)
Synchronicity doesn’t mean simple coincidence or a breakdown of causality that enables people to enjoy the good luck of right now as you claim in your fictional letters. Synchronicity is a life-changing bolt out of the blue defying space and time, arriving when the self has finally reached the dark place where it can turn itself around. A synchronic moment is not a chance happening. It’s a call to arms. There is nothing like that in your novel.
I suggest your fiction do more than hold the hand of the girl he loves. And get Max some speech therapy. Also, please stop sending me these silly letters.
By the way, librarians don’t return “books to their homes on the shelves according to the alphabet.” Do the libraries in your part of Philadelphia not use the Dewey Decimal System? Maybe your library is for fiction only (that would explain the inexact nature of many of your ideas). Even then, however, they are shelved – yes, alphabetically – by author’s last name.
Good luck in your future endeavors,
Please take this in the spirit with which it was given.
William L. Morris was the co-creator of the News poetry pages. He now lives and writes in Florida.
The Good Luck of Right Now
By Matthew Quick
284 pages, $25.99