Reel lucky

Reel lucky
American writer Matthew Quick, 40, deals with depression by writing popular books such as The Silver Linings Playbook or his latest, The Good Luck Of Right Now. All five of his novels have been optioned for film.

Matthew Quick's novel about football and mental health, The Silver Linings Playbook, was turned into an Oscarwinning movie in 2012 and his newest quirky comedy, The Good Luck Of Right Now, was optioned for film even before it hit bookstores last month.

The 40-year-old writer is in the enviable position of having sold film rights for every one of his six novels, including the work-in-progress Love May Fail, to be published next year by Harper Collins.

Yet such successes are punctuated by struggles with clinical depression, which manifested when he was in his 20s and teaching high school in New Jersey.

"I still get depressed now and I'm doing what I love," he says in a telephone interview from his home in Holden, Massachusetts.

"It's just part of my brain chemistry."

Quick, or Q as his friends call him, is open now about his condition, but 15 years ago, as he taught high-school English literature and film, he absolutely refused to admit that he was not just unhappy with his career, but he was also clinically depressed.

"Coming from a blue-collar neighbourhood, you didn't talk about mental health. I would never have confessed it to anyone, even when my wife confronted me."

He is married to Alicia Bessette, 38, a pianist and composer, who also wrote the 2011 novel of baking and widowhood, A Pinch Of Love.

After The Silver Linings Playbook novel came out in 2008, he found old friends coming up and confessing their struggles with depression and other problems.

Realising there was an audience out there, and that the best therapy for him is "going to the page and writing fiction", he wrote four succeeding novels, each of which involves a protagonist struggling with something people find hard to talk about.

The Good Luck Of Right Now is about a 38-year-old man hallucinating about actor Richard Gere after his mother dies of a lingering illness.

It was among influential trade publication Publishers Weekly's top 10 literary novels this quarter.

The books before it include Sorta Like A Rock Star (2010), in which a homeless teen is traumatised when her mother suffers a violent tragedy; Boy21 (2012), which follows mob and racial violence in a dead-end town; and last year's Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was a young adult novel about a teenager contemplating suicide.

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