Impossibly Hoping to See a Single Cloud: The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick [2008]

slpbI do not know much about madness, other than my own – which really I only understand as a difference to other’s normality.

In fact, I came to The Silver Linings Playbook because I knew so many people had loved the film. I decided to watch the film within days of finishing the book – they are quite dissimilar. However, I loved both, and that is coming from someone who normally prefers the book.

Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!

In this enchanting novel, Matthew Quick takes us inside Pat’s mind, showing us the world from his distorted yet endearing perspective. As the award-winning novelist Justin Cronin put it: “Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, The Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful debut.Synopsis from GoodReads

In The Silver Linings Playbook, Quick gives us madness wrapped in humour; he’s telling a serious story, but he wants us to laugh and empathise along the way. Pat is an adorable man, his madness is a little scary in its determined nature, but he clearly holds a lot of love and low self worth. He is both masculine, hard and tough, and a child who needs looking after.

“After I returned to New Jersey, I thought I was safe, because I did not think Kenny G could leave the bad place, which I realise is silly now – because Kenny G is extremely talented and resourceful and a powerful force to be reckoned with.”

I am not sure if I can describe quite how hilarious I found Pat’s hatred of Kenny G, I will try to not give too much away, but in suppressing the memory of his sectioning Pat’s demons manifest themselves in the form of Kenny G. As Pat supresses the memory of a significant event, Kenny G appears as a representation of Pat’s anger; Pat must hum a note while counting backwards from ten to control Kenny’s appearance, when this does not work Pat’s anger is uncontrollable.

It was interesting to read minds that felt similar to my own – not wanting to be touched, for example, by anyone but the person you love. Or, doing nice things for other people even though you do understand the logic, because you know you need to be a nice person. This is depicted in an overly rational manner, originating from Pat being told – probably by Nikki – that he was a horrible person. Pat was a bad husband to Nikki, but it becomes clear he was never intentionally so; his mind worked differently and Nikki was unable to understand it. In contrast to Nikki, Tiffany is a breath of fresh air in Pat’s life; she says what is on her mind – and with force; she does not give in and she does not cower to Pat’s aggression.

The Silver Linings Playbook was a reading experience I was not expecting; I laughed, I cried and in a small way I now understand something I did not really understand before. Beautiful.

8 thoughts on “Impossibly Hoping to See a Single Cloud: The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick [2008]

  1. Now I see why it’s popular, the summary alone shows a bit of this, but what you’ve said does so a lot better. If there’s a non-movie cover around at the moment I wouldn’t mind getting a copy soon (though of course I wouldn’t be able to not think of Bradley Cooper by now).

    That’s an upshot of film adaptations being different, you can like both tellings and feel okay about it (even if really the film should’ve been more faithful).

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    1. When I saw he was in the film he seemed like extremely odd casting, but he is surprisingly similar to the Pat I had in my head while reading.

      “That’s an upshot of film adaptations being different, you can like both tellings and feel okay about it (even if really the film should’ve been more faithful).”
      Completely agree.

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  2. Now see, from that description, they make the book sound quite charming and like something I’d enjoy reading. But I’m moderately turned off by having watched the movie and hating it… I’m so torn! You love it, you say it’s dissimilar from the movie, but my hatred of the movie is haunting me!

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    1. You are the first person I have spoken to who hated the film. You may like the book, it is different – maybe wait until you’ve forgotten what happens in the film 🙂

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  3. Have heard many good things about the film but this is the first review of the book I’ve read- and love that you loved both – definitely need to get to the book or movie or both. And Kenny G causing/representing his anger- brilliant! 😀

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    1. It’s odd that I like both, so it was really nice to sit down and watch the film and think ‘okay, they’ve made it viewable nicely’.

      Definitely buy both, read the book before seeing the film though; I think if I had seen the film first I would have been annoyed by the changes.

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