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 might be the only way to find closure in a world increasingly at odds with the one he served to protect. It might also help him 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 goodhearted 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 ultimately 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 our supposed enemies.
A valuable addition to fiction about the tangled aftereffects of Vietnam on soldiers in the field * Kirkus * In The Reason You're Alive Matthew Quick performs a nifty literary magic trick. The author of The Silver Linings Playbook introduces readers to David Granger, a politically incorrect Vietnam veteran who takes pride in the fact that he's basically too ornery to die. By book's end, everyone will wind up loving the camouflage-wearing, knife-carrying sociopath . . . When readers make it to the Capra-esque final pages, they are almost certain to shed a feel-good tear or two * Star Telegram * Dysfunctional families are Matthew Quick's specialty, and the latest novel from the author of The Silver Linings Playbook doesn't deviate from that focus. The Reason You're Alive deals with the impact of PTSD, depression, and adultery on a Philadelphia family, but also zooms in on the especially sharp divides created by America's culture wars . . . laugh-out-loud funny . . . fundamentally about the power to forgive both yourself and others . . . full of intriguing supporting characters . . . its mix of breezy humor and poignant reveals is perfect for the big screen. It's not likely to solve too many family feuds, but there is merit in its message that people are rarely entirely as they seem * A.V. Club * Scorching family drama . . . narrated with ire and eloquence by David Granger, a Vietnam vet . . . 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 . . . the force of David's voice is electric . . . a touching, old-fashioned drama about the ties that sometimes choke, but always bind * BookPage * You wouldn't think an ankle-holstering, Marlboro-smoking, card-carrying Republican could be vulnerable, but you don't know David Granger. A Vietnam veteran convinced that his brain tumor was caused by Agent Orange, David agrees to present his life's story in order to hold Uncle Sam accountable for his war injuries . . . His quest to return a war souvenir to its rightful owner is quixotic in the truest sense of the word, as his plans become derailed and reformed with each new twist . . . one of the most frustrating, yet appealing, narrators in recent memory, contradictory to his core. Those familiar with author Quick will recognize elements of the complex and unflinchingly honest protagonist that appeared in The Silver Linings Playbook, and fans of Matthew Norman and Greg Olear will enjoy David's introspection and self-preservation. Quick's prose is sharp and cutting, perfectly suited to David's brash persona. The Reason You're Alive is a compact powerhouse of a novel. Though brief, it's subversive, unexpected, and utterly compelling * Booklist (Starred Review) *