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BOOK REVIEW: Love May Fail by Matthew Quick

| 3 July 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Love May Fail by Matthew Quick

June 2015
Paperback, $29.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell



Love May Fail is the story of four people, all connected, and each with their life in a certain state of instability.

We have Portia Kane, who just caught her porn king husband sleeping with a girl barely half her age. She’s going home to try and figure out the next step.

I say the word wang several times and describe Ken’s tiny penis at great length before I think better of using such vivid sexual imagery while conversing with a nun, but she seems fascinated – riveted.
She squints and smiles when I say the word, maybe in spite of herself and her religious convictions.
Like I’m tickling the old woman with dirty words.

Nate Vernon, Portia’s high-school English teacher, who had some pretty… forceful feedback from a student a few years back, and has given up teaching.

This is the absurd, I say to Albert Camus in my mind as I sip my stronger-than-I-like coffee. My suicide attempt results in being stuck in my own home with a former student who wants me to teach again. This is any retired teacher’s hell. It’s like that Stephen King novel. My own personal version of Misery.

Sister Maeve Smith, Nate’s estranged mother, who took her vows after he was grown, and who is now dying of cancer.

I love you. I am not mad at you for failing to answer these letters. Maybe you didn’t even receive any of them? Maybe the PO box address I have is no longer current, no one is forwarding you mail, and this last letter will never even be read by your eyes, and yet I will send it anyway, because a mother’s hope is undending.

And Chuck Bass, who was a couple of years above Portia in school, and is now clean after spending most of his twenties addicted to heroin, but no one wants to hire him because of that big blank on his resume.

He pushes the button on his phone, and mine starts ringing.
“I wonder who that could be?” I say in an overly dramatic voice that Tommy Loves. It’s so easy to entertain the little guy.
“Hello,” I say into my phone.
“Uncle Chuck?” Tommy says into his.
“Speaking. Who is this?”
“Tommy Who?”
“Tommy your nephew.”
“That’s an incredibly weird last name, Mr. Your-Nephew. Is it Greek?”


Love May Fail came well-stocked with the dry sense of humour and quirkiness associated with works by Matthew Quick, and the first half of the story was compelling and flowed really well, but it fell over somewhere around the middle. At some point this story, with its flawed characters and interesting tone became a little too much. The co-incidences grew until it all felt too forced, and the story slowed right down.

The main problem seems to be that so much of the story was told by around the 200 page mark, while the next 175 served mostly just to set up the epilogue.

Coincidences became more pronounced in the second half and the story became more formulaic, less surprising, and less compelling all at once.

All in all, a quick and rather engrossing read and I will be keeping my eye out for more novels by Quick, but it could probably have done with a hundred fewer pages.

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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