The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
An enchanting first novel about love, madness, and Kenny G.
During the years he spends in a neural health facility, Pat Peoples formulates a theory about silver linings: he believes his life is a movie produced by God, his mission is to become physically fit and emotionally supportive, and his happy ending will be the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. When Pat goes to live with his parents, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki; his old friends are saddled with families; the Philadelphia Eagles keep losing, making his father moody; and his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy.
When Pat meets the tragically widowed and clinically depressed Tiffany, she offers to act as a liaison between him and his wife, if only he will give up watching football, agree to perform in this year’s Dance Away Depression competition, and promise not to tell anyone about their “contract.” All the while, Pat keeps searching for his silver lining. In this brilliantly written debut novel, Matthew Quick takes us inside Pat’s mind, deftly showing us the world from his distorted yet endearing perspective. The result is a touching and funny story that helps us look at both depression and love in a wonderfully refreshing way. (via Goodreads)
I watched the movie based on this book back around when the movie was nominated for several Oscars. The movie is pretty quirky and I wondered what the book was like, especially since the movie culminates with a dance routine. I’m always interested in how action scenes of every kind are written.
This book is equally as quirky, though the story is a little different. It’s, well, less cinematic. The conflicts that make for a good movie aren’t as necessary in a novel, especially when the novel is a first person narrative about a man coming to terms with his past, both his actions and the actions of others. There is also perhaps more leeway in written fiction for coincidences, especially with the main character is as befuddled by them as the audience might be. I didn’t realize this was Matthew Quick’s debut. In The Silver Linings Playbook, he manages to write about some weighty subjects with a very light hand. (David O. Russell did a really good job with the screenplay as well. He was beat out for the adapted screenplay Oscar by Chris Terrio’s Argo. I have to believe that Russell was a close second.)
So, how does one write a dance scene? In the book, the dance is not as much of a climactic moment, so there is a certain vagueness to the actions. Funnily enough, the opposite is true of the dance training. Since the character of Pat has decided his life is a movie, he gives us a “montage” of his training, instead of the more separate scenes that exist in the movie. The differences between the book and movie are pretty interesting.
Publisher: First published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 2008
Why did I choose to read this book? Curiosity