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The Silver Lining Playbook by Matthew Quick

I was looking for an author with a last name Q. I don’t know many. While searching the library catalogue I came across Death of the Red Heroine by Qiu XiaoLong which is a crime fiction set in China, which I think is interesting. I picked The Silver Lining Playbook instead because it was featured in the TV Book club and it sounded quirky. Not very analytical in my choice, but good enough reasons for me to pick up this book.

And it’s the best thing I have done for a long time!

After reading so much serious stuff, misery lit, re-telling of myth…. This book…., this book is a breath of fresh air. I mean it. It made reading totally, 100% fun and thought provoking.

The story follows the recovery of Pat People, who is suffering from mental health problems following the breakdown of his marriage, returning to the home of his parents to live in their basement. His intention is to develop himself both physically and mentally in preparation for the end of his separation with his wife Nikki. This he does by exercising obsessively and reading various classics of American literature to become more literate. He noted many hilarious observation on some great classics, The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, Huckleberry Finn, The Bell Jar, Catcher in the Rye etc), He finds himself challenged by the books he reads as they do not seem to share this idyllic position and wonder why his wife used to teach such pessimism to high school students. 🙂

Pat is fortunate to have so many people around him who supported his recovery. There is his beloved mother who loves him, a grumpy father who stayed glued to the TV on football matches, brother Jake, his therapist, Cliff Patel who became his friend, his best friend Ronnie and wife Veronica, and Veronica’s weird, psychotic sister, Tiffany, who is also recovering from mental health issues.

The breakdown has transformed Pat, and despite his problems (including a perfectly understandable aversion to singer Kenny G) and hope that one day his wife Nikki will come back to him, he is on his path to recovery.

Pat believes life is identical to Hollywood films. The lesson he’s taken from them is that while life can appear hard and painful, if you work and believe hard enough in your goal the happy ending is inevitable.

Yes, I really do believe in silver linings, mostly because I’ve been seeing them almost every day when I emerge from the basement, push my head and arms through a trash bag – so my torso will be wrapped in plastic and I will sweat more and then go running.

As I run through the part, I look up and see what the day has to offer in the way of divination. If clouds are blocking the sun, there will always be a silver lining that reminds me to keep on trying, because I know that while things might seem dark now, my wife is coming back to me soon.

Quick is a very imaginative and humourous writer. One section that made me giggle on the train is a “montage” – much like those in the ROCKY films, as Pat prepares for a dance competition. One minute his family member is begging him to go to the football matches with the boys, another we have his dance partners making him crawl like ”you have no legs and you haven’t eaten for two weeks..”  on the floor, as he take in all the verbal abuses, as part of the dance routine. On the day of the competition, Pat protested the idea of him baring his torso for the performance….

I sort of giggle each time she shaves a line of hair off my chest.
I sort of giggle each time she shaves a line of hair off my back.
“We want those muscles to gleam like the sun onstage, right?” Pat’s dance partner said.
“Why can’t I just wear a shirt?” I say.
“Does the sun wear a shirt?”
The sun does not wear yellow tights either, but I do not say so.

The book is not all about comedy. The next thing that happened in the book was a description of Pat performing the dance with his dance partner which obviously has something to do with the sun. As the sun disappears, Pat finally understands what she means by crying through movement. She jumps, she rolls, she spins, she runs, she slides… And then she is lifted by Pat to the song’s crescendo and .. I found myself singing along with a heartbreaking famous song of the 80’s and while I sang I imagined the dance routine that Pat has performed and when he finally finished it, I found myself emotionally suck into the beauty and expression of the dance and vividly imagine Pat’s dance partner crying movement and expression of pain throughout the entire dance……….. it was that good.

Rating: 5/5

The novel is well calibrated, charming, heartwarming and hilarious. I felt sorry for Pat in many instances he has been misunderstood and wronged. I laughed at the innocence and quirkiness of some the characters. My heart went all warm and fuzzy when I saw how the people closes to him supported him in his most critical moment.

The voice of the Pat is sincere and convincingly pure in his intent “to be kind rather than right” and I followed his progress through recovery with trepidation and anticipation, wanting to know fervently if the silver lining for Pat is going to happen for real at the end.

It has all the right ingredients to be adapted as a Romcom (Romantic Comedy), and so it will be as I soon found out in the author’s bio later. Pat is dopey but loveable, occasionally he succumb to the noises in his head, unrealistically optimistic but well-intentioned and possesses a strong sense of right and wrong. As a first novel I think this book is a real achievement. It made me wants to go out and own a copy of it for the gloomy rainy days. I am tempted to re-read this in the future. It kept me smiling from the beginning till the end. It’s been a long time since I laugh so hard from reading a book. Although I didn’t like the ending as I think Pat deserves better, but it is an extremely very entertaining read. It will take a heart of stone not to like this one.

Have you read any funny novel recently? Can you recommend them to me? Thank you in advance!

I am reading this for A to Z Challenge.

Paperback. Publisher: Picador, 2009; Length: 289 pages. Setting: Contemporary America. Source: Library Loot. Finished reading at: 15 June 2010

 About the writer:

In the six months that followed his leaving teaching and the Philadelphia area, Matthew floated down the Peruvian Amazon and formed “The Bardbarians” (a two-man literary circle), backpacked around the Southern Africa, hiked to the bottom of a nowy Grand Canyon, soul-searched, and finally began writing full-time. He has since returned to the Philadelphia area, where he lives with his wife and greyhound.

The novel’s achievement so far:

  • – Hemingway Foundation / PEN Award for Fiction Honorable Mention
  • – The Weinstein Company has optioned the film rights and David O. Russell has written the screenplay
  • – Selected by Amanda Ross for The TV Book Club (UK)
  • – Selected by Nancy Pearl as one of Summer’s Best Books (National Public Radio)
  • – Translated into Italian, Spanish, and Chinese (forthcoming); published in the UK by Picador

About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


10 thoughts on “The Silver Lining Playbook by Matthew Quick

  1. This is a greeat review Jo ! I’m definitely putting this book on my ‘look-out-for’ list 🙂

    Posted by Joanna | June 20, 2010, 8:04 am
  2. It´s so interesting that you like it so much, I read another review by a blogger I know fairly well, that was not so enthusiastic. Now I have no idea whether I should put it on the list or not.

    But it´s great that you had so much fun. Fun books are so underrated! I can recommend Cold Comfort Farm and The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy from the books I´ve read recently, and of course there´s always Wodehouse! 🙂

    Posted by Bina | June 20, 2010, 1:59 pm
    • I think humour is contextual, personal and cultural. Try one chapter and see how it goes. If you loan the book from the library and you don’t like it, there is nothing to lose but return it back to the library.

      Thank you for the recommendation. I’ll try Wodehouse and books that you recommended towards end of this year, when I completed my challenges and it is winter, and I need all the humour I could muster. 😉

      Posted by JoV | June 20, 2010, 10:18 pm
  3. I have actually, sadly, not read any particularly amusing book recently. I haven’t even really read a particularly good book in the last while…

    I never understand why we seem to “fall” on fun books. We should seek them out more actively if this is how enjoyable they are. Reading isn’t supposed to be such a chore, we should enjoy it more!

    Posted by Biblibio | June 21, 2010, 2:58 pm
    • I agree with you Bibliobio… it is not meant to be a chore…. I think I want to actively seek out fun books, there isn’t a point in reading if I don’t enjoy it.
      I seem to come out from most books feeling really Meh! these days. 😦

      Posted by JoV | June 22, 2010, 9:54 pm
  4. Listening to the audio version and loving it. Many, many recommendations and I finally decided to download it. Who would you suggest play the major characters? Leo DiCaprio apparently is going to play Pat Peoples. I don’t see it, but Hollywood!

    Posted by sheldon | July 6, 2010, 6:33 pm
  5. i think i would like to read something like this, takea break from all the serious stuff as you say.
    has anyone read The Suicide Shop by Jean Teule.( i would definitley recomend it, if you havent!) The silver lining playbooks reminds me of that. its a very short book, but its very quirky and full of irony. this book really made me think about it for ages after i read it. i think it would make a real good movie as wel…

    Posted by Habz | July 11, 2010, 5:21 pm
    • Thanks for dropping by Habz. You mean Silver Lining should be made into movies or Suicide shop? if it’s Silver Lining, apparently a movie right is underway. I got to check out Suicide Shop though if it’s similar to Silver lining!

      Posted by JoV | July 14, 2010, 10:23 pm

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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