The Reason You're Alive

By Matthew Quick

Harper. 240 pp. $25.99 nolead ends

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Reviewed By David Martindale

nolead ends 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.

Turns out he's really not such a bad guy once you get to know him.

Granger tells us his life story: going rogue and committing atrocities in the Vietnam jungle, coming home to a military psychiatric facility, marrying a woman more unstable than he is, and always at odds with his now-grown, "ignorant" liberal, art-dealer son.

Our protagonist ultimately goes on a mission to atone for an old transgression. He feels compelled to return a knife he stole nearly 50 years ago from his Vietnam nemesis: Clayton Fire Bear.

When readers make it to the Capra-esque final pages, they are almost certain to shed a feel-good tear or two. Our hero would bust their chops for all the "boo-hooing" and "girly-man behavior," but so be it.

This review originally appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.