Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"The Silver Linings Playbook"

Matthew Quick floated down the Peruvian Amazon and formed ‘The Bardbarians’ (a two-man literary circle), backpacked around Southern Africa, hiked to the bottom of a snowy Grand Canyon, soul-searched, and earned his Creative Writing M.F.A. through Goddard College.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Silver Linings Playbook, his debut novel, and reported the following:
Pat Peoples believes his life is a movie produced by God, and—if Pat improves his character enough—his happy ending will be the return of his estranged wife.

After being encouraged by his therapist to make new friends, my protagonist asks the local depressed widow—who has been stalking him—out to dinner. On page 69 of TSLP Pat is at a diner with widow Tiffany.

Pat looks for the silver lining in any given situation, although for much of the novel he is stuck in a state of denial that often keeps him from engaging appropriately with his present reality. Instead of being in the moment, Pat obsesses over his estranged wife.

In the diner scene, Pat worries whether he has enough money in his pocket to buy dinner for both Tiffany and himself. He worries that he won’t have enough dollars left over for a generous tip and remembers fights with his ex-wife, who encouraged tipping generously. Because he is a changed man, because he wants to win his wife back, Pat decides that he will not order a traditional dinner, but the cheapest thing on the menu—a bowl of raisin bran—just so he will be able to leave a big tip.

The entire page is basically an internal monologue that is interrupted when the waitress says, ‘Sir?’

And this is Pat Peoples’ curse: because he is always obsessing about his past, he can never be fully in the present. While Pat’s wife has been estranged from him for a very long time, his new friend—his ticket to the here and now—is sitting right across the table, just waiting to be discovered.
Read an excerpt from The Silver Linings Playbook, and learn more about the novel and author at Matthew Quick's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue