Warmth and tenderness about mental illness, family dysfunction, relationship breakdown. And American football.
If you have no interest in the latter, you may still appreciate this book, despite perhaps learning much more about the Eagles than you never wanted to know anyway! As this becomes a delightful, frustrating, sometimes (to a female) incomprehensible, irritating but wildly funny example of some of the frankly WEIRD ways in which chaps bond!. And if you adore American football, and even more if you are an E-A-G-L-E-S! EAGLES! Fan, delighting in making the shapes of the letters with your legs and arms when with your buddies watching at home, or being present at, a game, you will love this.
Pat is a man in his mid-thirties, though he believes he is some years younger, having spent more time than he realises in a ‘neural health facility’ in Baltimore (a psychiatric hospital). Pat committed some sort of violent act, and has an obsession with his ex-wife. He is an incurable optimist, dedicated to happy endings in films and determined that the silver linings on clouds, and the happily ever after, must happen. Following his release from the hospital, engineered by his loving mother, he must agree to regular therapy, and a regimen of psychiatric drugs. He has returned to living in the parental home. He has agreed to all of this, and is working hard on shedding the weight he put on in hospital, his goal being to become again the sports and history teacher with a great body which he had when he met and married his ex-wife. He is convinced they can get together again. He is also an absolutely dedicated Philadelphia Eagles Fan. As are all the males in his friend and family network. The women feel rather differently. As a non-American, and as a woman who is supremely uninterested in teamsports games, whether from this side of the pond or any other, the making-of-the-E-A-G-L-E-S with the legs and arms jokes made me laugh a lot and pull superior womanly faces
In his life he has : a loving mother, a great and supportive and successful brother, a best friend, whose wife has a sister with mental health issues of her own, the kindest and in some ways most unprofessional of therapists, another great friendship with a fellow inmate in that ‘neural health facility’. He also probably has Asperger’s – at least, this is what accounts for his voice, which sounds not cold, but without emotional nuance and subtlety. Pat, despite being prone to a violence he barely understands when he hears smooth jazz music, particularly a specific piece of music played by Kenny G, is a ‘good person’ with a warm and open heart. He is actively working on ‘being kind’. He also has an extremely dysfunctional father, who is deeply depressed and emotionally cold.
Part of Pat’s journey to try and get re-united with his ex-wife, an artistic, intellectual literature major and teacher, is to begin to read through some of her favourite books, particularly those she taught to her students. So he reads, and responds to such books as The Great Gatsby, A Farewell to Arms, Catcher In The Rye, The Bell Jar, responding to them with approval or dismay according to his ‘Silver Lining’ philosophy, and need for the happy wrap. There is a lot of warm humour in the author’s use of this.
I held back from the final star because the overall tone of this warm, charming and sweet book, despite the bleakness which appears along the way at times, is perhaps a little too anodyne and Hollywood. This did not quite equal my first acquaintance with Matthew Quick: Forgive me Leonard Peacock, which I preferred. Nonetheless, recommended.
This was made into a film, which I haven’t seen, and didn’t know about, so my review is from someone coming new to the book, purely from my appreciation of Quick’s writing in Leonard Peacock’