La Salle University presented an honorary degree to alumnus and author Matthew Quick, whose first novel, The Silver Linings Playbook, was the basis for the Oscar-winning film. The event took place during the Honors Convocation held at the University’s Hayman Center.
Kevin Harty, professor and Chair of the English Department at La Salle, sponsored Quick, a 1996 graduate, for the degree. Harty began his presentation by reading a passage from Quick’s book. He then said, “The key scene in the novel takes place on our campus just yards from where I am now standing.”
“Matthew, or Q is he is known to his friends, represents what is special about La Salle,” Harty said. “Q has said during previous campus visits that his time at La Salle opened any number of doors for him, grounded him, and gave him a sense of purpose. Like many of our students, Q found at La Salle a place to shape his studies in ways that suited him best by double majoring in English and secondary education. Like St. John Baptist de La Salle, founder of the Christian Brothers, Q dedicated himself first to teaching. Q then followed another path by becoming a writer; in his case, a writer who struggled to find his voice and audience but who has, having found them, gone on to great success, never missing a chance to credit La Salle’s role in that success.”
The story behind Quick’s writing of The Silver Linings Playbook is an intriguing one. He and his wife, Alicia, whom he met at La Salle, left their teaching jobs in New Jersey and went to live with her parents in Massachusetts. For three years, Quick wrote in the basement of his in-laws’ house. The result was his first novel, which was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
It was made into a film in 2012 starring Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, and Jennifer Lawrence, who won an Oscar for her performance.
After receiving his honorary degree, Quick said it was at La Salle that he realized he needed to be a writer. But when he told people he was going to be an English major, they told him he would starve or be unsuccessful.
“Things worked out for me largely because of what I did while I was at La Salle, writing every day,” he said. “I walked the red carpet at the Oscars last year, and Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for a character I wrote, and I did that with a La Salle English degree. So if people keep telling you that your dream is not possible, don’t believe them.”
Quick also talked about his classroom experiences and the teachers he had at the University. He concluded his talk by referencing one of the University’s themes: “I am so proud to be a part of this La Salle community, and I’ll never stop exploring.”
The following day, Quick gave a reading from his works, held a question-and-answer session with the audience, and signed dozens of copies of The Silver Linings Playbook for students, faculty, and staff.
Quick has also written three young adult novels, Forgive Me Leonard Peacock, Boy 21, and Sorta Like a Rock Star. His next novel, The Good Luck of Right Now, will be published in 2014, to be followed by Love May Fail in 2015.
La Salle University was established in 1863 through the legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Christian Brothers teaching order, which St. La Salle founded in 1680. La Salle is an educational community shaped by traditional Catholic and Lasallian values.