The New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook offers a timely novel featuring his most fascinating character yet, a Vietnam vet embarking on a quixotic crusade to track down his nemesis from the war.Read more...
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The New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook offers a timely novel featuring his most fascinating character yet, a Vietnam vet embarking on a quixotic crusade to track down his nemesis from the war.
After sixty-eight-year-old David Granger crashes his BMW, medical tests reveal a brain tumor that he readily attributes to his wartime Agent Orange exposure. He wakes up from surgery repeating a name no one in his civilian life has ever heard--that of a Native American soldier whom he was once ordered to discipline. David decides to return something precious he long ago stole from the man he now calls Clayton Fire Bear. It may be the only way to find closure in a world increasingly at odds with the one he served to protect. It may also help him to finally recover from his wife's untimely demise.
As David confronts his past to salvage his present, a poignant portrait emerges: that of an opinionated and good-hearted American patriot fighting like hell to stay true to his red, white, and blue heart, even as the country he loves rapidly changes in ways he doesn't always like or understand. Hanging in the balance are Granger's distant art-dealing son, Hank; his adoring seven-year-old granddaughter, Ella; and his best friend, Sue, a Vietnamese American who respects David's fearless sincerity.
Through the controversial, wrenching, and wildly honest David Granger, Matthew Quick offers a no-nonsense but ultimately hopeful view of America's polarized psyche. By turns irascible and hilarious, insightful and inconvenient, David is a complex, wounded, honorable, and loving man. The Reason You're Alive examines how the secrets and debts we carry from our past define us; it also challenges us to look beyond our own prejudices and search for the good in us all.
The winter of one man's discontent
The Silver Linings Playbook author Matthew Quick channels the political anger that is all the rage these days in this scorching family drama. The Reason You’re Alive is narrated with ire and eloquence by David Granger, a Vietnam vet in his late 60s who has just had brain surgery. It’s as if Holden Caulfield grew up to be a reflective, even soulful, Archie Bunker. David’s voice is intimate, personal, occasionally poetic and sensible, even sympathetic. He is, however, filled with right-wing rage directed at everybody—from the government that sent him off to war to his art-dealer son, Hank, a liberal and a hypocrite (two of David’s least favorite traits).
David is recounting his life story for an unspecified report, and we spiral back to his wartime experiences, the harrowing meeting that led to his marriage, the tragedy that followed and the roots of his rocky relationship with Hank. Like Holden, the one thing David seems to love unequivocally is a little girl—Hank’s 7-year-old daughter, Ella. The question coursing throughout The Reason You’re Alive is whether or not Ella—or anything—will prevent David from yielding to his darkest impulses.
For the first half of the novel, the force of David’s voice is electric. After some time, his rants begin to wear thin, dabbling in a certain kind of narrow-mindedness and self-pity we see in angry folks on both sides of the political aisle. The book does move toward an emotional conclusion, offering Hank and David an opportunity for redemption. For all of David’s political bluster, this is a touching, old-fashioned drama about the ties that sometimes choke, but always bind.