There’s a certain magic in stories about average guys and gals from working class neighborhoods who, with every card stacked against them, end up beating the odds.
It’s that kind of magic that guests of this weekend’s 8th annual Newburyport Literary Festival will find in the life story of visiting author Matthew Quick. Quick penned his first published novel, “The Silver Linings Playbook,” in the basement of his in-laws’ house and is still basking in the afterglow of its rise on the best-seller lists, and subsequently, eight Oscar nominations for the film adaptation of the book.
The Literary Festival is a celebration of literature and reading with events and programs being held around the city on Saturday. This year’s theme, “Imagination Soars!,” will highlight literature for young adults and children. Quick is among this year’s honorees, as is Jabberwocky Bookshop owner Sue Little, who recently marked her 40th year as owner of the store.
It’s also the kind of magic that readers and filmgoers embraced in the characters Quick brought together to tell the kind of story he always wanted to tell, even if it took all his courage and a great leap of faith to set “The Silver Linings Playbook” down on paper.
To hear the Holden writer tell it, success for him in writing was anything but certain when he put his now famous manuscript out to agents in 2006. He had given up a successful career as a teacher at a prestigious high school, sold his house and settled in with his in-laws at the urging of his wife, Alicia, in order to pursue his passion.
But after three years, there was still no money coming in and Quick was facing a completely depleted savings account.
“I was a high school teacher for eight years,” Quick said. “I was very well-respected, but it wasn’t who I wanted to be. I wanted to be a writer. But when you sell your house and write unpaid in your in-laws’ basement, people make you feel like you’re doing something criminal and you’re not well. I felt very alone during that period.”