Cover Story: A Whole New Playbook
For Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook — the novel that became the Academy Award-winning film starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro — success as a fiction writer came slowly, then gradually and then all at once.
The Oaklyn, N.J., native left a comfortable job as a high school English teacher to pursue his MFA, during which time he spent several years writing in his in-laws’ Massachusetts basement and endured bouts of frustration and self-doubt. But in 2008, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published Silver Linings, the touching, comic tale of two people struggling with mental health issues and loss while trying to put their lives back together. Although the work of literary fiction was well received and quickly optioned for a film, Quick’s next few books were, at the suggestion of his agent, young adult titles: 2010’s Sorta Like a Rock Star, 2012’s Boy21 and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, a poignant novel about a kid who’s “incredibly smart, incredibly pissed off, and with a right to be” who brings a gun to school (due out in August).
Silver Linings’ path to film production was winding, with names such as Mark Wahlberg, Anne Hathaway, Zoey Deschanel and Vince Vaughn attached at various points. Once the David O. Russell-directed film hit theaters, however, things became hectic for Quick. And when the film garnered eight academy award nominations (Lawrence won for Best Actress), Quick’s life became less like a novelist’s and more, well, like a rock star’s. He’s since sold another manuscript, The Good Luck of Right Now (Harper Collins, 2014), which has already been optioned by Dreamworks. He’s also champing at the bit to get to work on his next novel —“It’s in my head, fully formed” — which is due in December.
Quick (who, in the interest of full disclosure, is a friend and was a college roommate at La Salle University in the early 1990s) took some time in March to talk to Book Business about his whirlwind life since his book hit the silver screen.