Ali McGhee is a journalist, creative writer, and academic. Her work has appeared in The Edgar Allan Poe Review, Romantic Circles, Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary...
Matthew Quick, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Luck Right Now and Silver Linings Playbook, will be sharing his newest novel, Love May Fail, at Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe this coming Monday, 6/29 at 7 p.m. Love May Fail, like Quick’s other novels, centers on the lives of a cast of quirky characters whose wryly humorous perceptions of human experience illuminate their worlds in profound ways.
Love May Fail is the story of Portia Kane, who flees a crumbling marriage with her cheating pornographer husband and returns to her South Jersey hometown. Here, she reconnects with her favorite high school English teacher, Mr. Vernon, who has spiraled into a depressed retirement after a traumatic classroom experience. Her quest to save her most inspirational instructor eventually leads her back to herself, but on the way she has help from the memorable characters we have come to expect from Quick.
For Quick, “the greatest successes of teachers are never their own but belong to their students.” His own connections with his students as a former teacher informed the character of Mr. Vernon. Quick found his students consistently inspirational, dreaming big and changing the world one step at a time. One particular project that his students took on had a lasting impact for the community:
I taught in a community that drank a lot. Work hard, play hard. Both the teens and the adults. A few of my high school students wanted to solve the problem of teen drinking and driving, which was rampant. They asked me to advise an anti-drunk-driving club that targeted drinking and driving—not necessarily underage drinking. The club put on amazing school-wide assemblies that addressed the problem candidly and completely polarized the faculty. That made life for teacher me rather bumpy. The kids who started the club really were trying to save lives. They had noble hearts and were pragmatic about the problem at a time when most adults were simply looking the other way. It really inspired me.
Quick’s witty writing is itself inspirational, shifting bleak scenarios into occasions for transformation, and his sharp, engaging prose reflects the inner workings of minds and hearts as characters navigate through rocky periods. Quick cites authors like Haruki Murakami, Albert Camus, and Kurt Vonnegut as some of his greatest inspirations (the novel’s title comes from Vonnegut’s Jailbird). These authors, particularly Murakami and Vonnegut, create worlds tinged with elements of the surreal and the absurd, but Quick notes that, even more than these elements, “what draws me to their work is [that] a lot of it is about thinking and how the mind (or our thoughts) can bend or redefine reality or perceptions. That's definitely a topic that interests me both as a reader and a writer.”
Since March of last year, Quick has called the Outer Banks of North Carolina home. Although his previous books have been set in the Northeast, “North Carolina is definitely taking over more of my subconscious. Philly and South Jersey will always be what I picture when I think of home but OBX is near and dear to my heart too. I bet my future characters get some NC sand between their toes.”
Quick is currently writing an original screenplay for The Weinstein Company and is working on another novel for HarperCollins. He also has a young adult novel, Every Exquisite Thing, scheduled for publication with Little, Brown in May of 2016. The novel is being developed for film by The Weinstein Company.
The reading will be followed by a Q&A and book signing. If we’re lucky, we may also convince him to sing “Livin’ on a Prayer,” a song important for the characters in Love May Fail. He readily admits to belting it out at the top of his lungs when it comes on the radio, though, “sadly, I cannot hit the high notes, but I try!”