Skywatcher’s Cloud Chart

It might not surprise you that much, but this week I’ve been on something of a reading binge. Today, I read “The Silver Linings Playbook” by Matthew Quick. Yesterday, I read “Domestic Violets” by Matthew Norman. (I just realized that these two authors shared their first name.) I’m not sure what I’ll pick up next, but it looks like it’s either going to be “Galore” by Michael Crummey or “The Lonely Polygamist” by Brady Udall.

“Domestic Violets” was witty, absurdly clever, and frighteningly close to home. Surprisingly, I thought that Tom Violet, protagonist of “Domestic Violets,” and Quentin of Grossman’s Magician series were similar. Tom Violet is a writer–of sorts–who has a beautiful wife, a lovely daughter, and an high-paying job, but isn’t happy. “Domestic Violets” is the story of Tom turning his life around and choosing happiness.

“The Silver Linings Playbook” is one of the most touching books I’ve read in some time. I’ve read many books that have made me tear up, quite a few that have made me sit down and weep, but I’ve never read a book that made me almost but not quite tear up this many times. Pat Peoples, the unlikely lead of Matthew Quick’s debut novel, is clinically depressed and insane. He has been locked up in an institution for three years, though he thinks it’s only been a few months. His wife has left him, but he has convinced himself that God will bring them back together if he can become a better person. It’s hard not to grow closer to Pat as he hums away his fear of Kenny G or tips his waitress thirty-five dollars after a four-dollar bowl of raisin bran. And it’s hard to keep your heart from breaking as you learn what drove him into the institution in the first place and why Nikki, his wife, will not be contacting him again, regardless of how nice he becomes. But. . . As the title suggests, every cloud has a silver lining; we just need to pull out our copy of Skywatcher’s Cloud Chart.

It’s comforting to see Tom turn his life around and more comforting to see Pat overcoming betrayal and insanity. I wonder what adventures,insight, or inspiration my bookshelves will lead me to next.

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