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.
Meet David Granger, the bigoted 68-year-old Vietnam veteran and narrator of Quick's (The Silver Linings Playbook) dark, funny, and surprisingly tender new novel. After a brain tumor is removed, Granger allows some unknown government lackey to transcribe his life story: a patriotic, often cynical, sometimes paranoid, but always engaging recitation. He shares the horrors of Vietnam and his encounter with Clayton Fire Bear, the fake name of a Native American to whom he owes an apology. He describes his family relationships: his love for his granddaughter; his semi-estrangement with Hank, his pretentious son; and his tragic marriage to Hank's mother, Jessica, which began as an effort to save her life after being raped and impregnated and ended years later with her suicide. Granger's life is rife with instances that either prove or belie his reputation as a xenophobic, racist homophobe. Identifying the "you" in the title proves illuminating; is it Clayton Fire Bear, Hank who until now was ignorant about his paternity or Granger himself, who tried and failed to keep Jessica's demons at bay and too late realized she returned the favor with more subtlety and success?
This book is so captivating and realistic it has to be based on a true story. The characters are just like people you run across in life. Truly a book you won’t want to put down.