Esteemed Novelist Matthew Quick

 In Local Spotlight, OBX Community

Everyone has a story.

It’s an on-going journey from birth to death, ranging in scope from happiness to tragedy, with all the bus stops in between. Matthew Quick knows this. He is a writer, a story smith of tales, fables, and mythos of life’s lessons. If you don’t learn them, you’re doomed to repeat them until you do. Take heed, readers.

Who is this guy? And why is he in this magazine? Matthew Quick’s story is about “writer’s block, anxiety, sobriety, introversion, Jungian-analysis, and a midlife quest for self-knowledge,” according to his description. Within the parameters of these nouns, Quick has managed to become a nationally known writer of nine novels, thus far, translated and published into 30 different languages, has won numerous awards and accolades, and currently lives and writes in these magnificent Outer Banks, along with his wife, the novelist Alicia Bessette.

If Matthew Quick’s name sounds familiar, he is best known for his novel, and its subsequent movie, The Silver Linings Playbook, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, which was an Oscar winner in 2008. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, find it and enjoy it!

Matthew Quick’s latest tome, an outstanding novel of community taking care of its own after enduring terrible tragedy, We Are the Light, was nationally released here in Manteo’s own Downtown Books on November 1, 2022. Now that’s a big deal in publishing; a nationally debuted novel in our town! Kudos to Jamie Anderson, owner of Downtown Books, and her crew for a great job! A list of Matthew Quick’s other works can be found on his website: Quick writes an interesting monthly blog on his website, too. Give it a read.

Matthew QuickFrom his own lips and writings, Quick is an admitted alcoholic and Jungian psychotherapy patient. Conquering drinking and turning to Jungian therapy have helped Quick turn his life around from increasing uncontrollability and the writers’ worst enemy, blatant writer’s block… a frightening writers’ malady where creative efforts cease to function, and creative production won’t happen. By tackling those head-on he has been able to mitigate their power and create an increasing healing.

The proof of this success lies in the growing reception and accolades of We Are the Light. In short, this is a hopeful novel about a widower who takes in a grieving teenager and inspires a magical revival in their small Pennsylvania town. It has been described as being about “the quicksand of grief and the daily miracle of love, and that life is full of guardian angels.”

Both Matthew Quick in his personal journey, and his protagonist, Lucas Goodgame, find themselves in this novel fractured and broken, but with tear-stained hope for redemption. Quick elaborates, “Humans tell and listen to stories because stories are symbolic representations of our inner psychological problems. We yearn to understand ourselves and the human condition. And the Jungian analysis I’ve been doing has taught me that the ability to understand and consciously choose our own personal narratives is essential for our mental health.” The mind may fracture, but the psyche can create an equilibrium for the heart and soul to heal.

A light bulb lights in my memory. Leave it to the prowess of the Japanese! About 5,000 years ago they created and refined an art form of redeeming shattered things. Called Kintsugi, it is the art of “precious scars.” Physically, it is the art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with resin mixed with gold. By embracing flaws and imperfections, a stronger, more beautiful piece of art results. It is a Phoenix from the shards. A metaphor of healing ourselves which teaches us sometimes in repairing broken things, the result is something more unique and beautiful. I have always loved this Zen concept. The essence of resilience is found in Lucas Goodgame, the community of Majestic, Pennsylvania, and even in their creator, writer Matthew Quick.

My lesson from this novel embraced many things. We shouldn’t throw away broken objects. When it breaks doesn’t mean that it’s no longer useful; breakages can become valuable. Repairing can result in a more valuable object. This is the essence of resilience. Never be afraid to cry openly and laugh whole-heartedly when you live. Always seek to cope with traumatic events for what growth they ignite.

I would like to leave you with a quote from Matthew Quick which sums up his accomplishment with his new book. “We Are the Light is about a lot of things, but it is mostly about the tiny little ways in which we save each other. It is also about how we too often cut ourselves off from love because we are afraid. And it is my hymn to the life-saving importance of breaking away for a time.”

Rebecca Orr
Author: Rebecca Orr

Rebecca is a recent Iowa transplant to the Outer Banks and spends her days enjoying the beach and seafood, and her nights contemplating the sea and the stars. It has been her long-held dream to be a writer.

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