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The Handyman: A Novel

See, Carolyn

393 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 037550155X / ISBN 13: 9780375501555
Published by Random House, New York, 1999
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Jack Skylark's Books (West Covina, CA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Book and BroDart protected jacket are without faults. Gift quality. Signed and dated (1999) on the title page by See. First edition / first printing. Ships in bubble wrap in box. Bookseller Inventory # PC 22-6

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Handyman: A Novel

Publisher: Random House, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


With this brilliant novel about the surprises of destiny and the origins of fame, the critically acclaimed author of Golden Days ("Extraordinary . . . a very, very important book"-Los Angeles Times Book Review) and Making History ("Radiant . . . exciting and imaginative"-Cleveland Plain Dealer) firmly establishes her place as one of the preeminent chroniclers of our times.
The Handyman is the story of Bob Hampton, an aspiring young painter who has had to face the humbling fact that he doesn't know what to paint.  And how are you supposed to be an artist in this world if you don't have a vision? Bob trades in his artist's palette for a minivan full of house paints, hammers, and nails, and sets about earning a little cash as a handyman.
Although he turns out to be very bad at fixing the things he's hired to fix, Bob demonstrates quite a knack for fixing the lives of the people around him. In the midst of his jerry-built repairs and inspired home improvements, Bob meets an extraordinary cast of characters--rendered in all their delightful eccentricity and human frailty as only Carolyn See can-each of whom shows Bob the true scope of his own remarkable talent. There's Angela Landry, a housewife with far too much time on her hands, a sexpot of a stepdaughter, and a son in need of  attention; Jamie Walker, whose allergy-prone and ADD-afflicted children keep a menagerie of scaly pets that far exceed Jamie's managerial skills; Valerie LeClerc, older, sadder, and certainly wiser than Bob; and Hank and Ben, who leave a narrow-minded Midwest only to find unremitting illness and isolation in the California of their dreams.
Replete with stunning images and all of Carolyn See's trademark humor and wisdom, The Handyman depicts the countless ways in which our lives are intertwined and the profound effects we can have on one another. It is the kind of surprising and miraculously uplifting novel we have come to expect from the woman Diane Johnson has called "one of our most important writers."


The hero of Carolyn See's The Handyman has something of the sacred and more than a little of the profane about him. Back in his native Los Angeles after an abortive stay in Paris, Bob Hampton sets himself up as a jack-of-all-trades in order to pay for his art supplies. Soon, however, he's emotionally involved with several of his employers--each of whom is "sandblasted by life" and each of whom he does his best to rescue. In fact, this unlikely savior seems to work quick wonders on these dysfunctional households. What matter if he ends up bedding a few of the females in the process? But more to the point, Bob is roused by his role:

I was beginning to get the idea that maybe you couldn't change the world but you could paint sadness over, brighten the whole thing up. And maybe the bright stuff would bleed down into the interior and start changing it.
Carolyn See's story of Bob Hampton's seminal summer of '96 would be intriguing in itself, but she gives it another dimension--and several more layers--by framing it with two grant-application letters, circa 2027. It seems that a certain young researcher wishes to explore the early oeuvre of the eminent Robert Hampton, as well as his relations with the "Testigos" or "Witnesses." These witnesses, as one reads on, are all the people he encountered, changed, and was changed by in 1996; and one of the key pleasures in The Handyman is matching up each individual against his or her sadder, younger self. Like its title character, See's novel is casually inspiring. --Winnie Wheaton

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