The Handyman By Carolyn See

One of my favorite books of all time. I've painted since I was a teenager and this book captured something I had wondered about; how does anyone know they have talent The answer seems to be, they don't. I enjoyed the way Ms See captures the journey of the artist, from unknown to famous painter, while living an ordinary life. 0345426606 I read this book by mistake. I was looking for a book by and author, last name See, and I chose the wrong See.
Interesting book - handy guy adventures and how he changes the lives of the people with whom he comes in contact.
Not really special. 0345426606 Well, I did one of my big no nos. I peaked at the last page and ended up with information that spoiled the plot for me. This is why I'm unable to give the book a star rating. But I can say this, I wasn't so enamored with the book (after 100+ pages) that it didn't matter. Although somewhat entertaining, it didn't hook me enough to finish it. I think See lost me on the initial 6 page Guggenheim application a the beginning. I thought it would've been best to put it at the end but then after peaking at the last page I understood why she didn't. Still, I almost tossed it before trudging through those first six pages. I wonder how many readers she's lost with it?

From what parts I've read, it was an easy, light read--I would qualify it as in the beach read category.
0345426606 This was kind of dumb. The setup seemed intriguing, but it didn't play out well, and it ended hastily, as if the author had run out of grant money. The artist details seemed thrown in, the main character was not believable, and the rest of the characters ran together so that, when one of them stood up and did something different, I had to flip back to figure out which bland character had stepped out. Don't bother unless you're trapped in a waiting room w/ nothing else. 0345426606 Kind of cool book. Published 1999. I like the writer. 0345426606

characters The Handyman

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.
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, 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 Handyman

The time is summer 1996, and the place is Los Angeles. The situation is simple: a young man, Bob Hampton, is lost. Beyond his wish to be a painter, he's keenly aware that he has no direction for either life or career and some doubt that he'll ever find one. Telling himself that he's raising some cash for art school, he hires himself out as a handyman. The clients who enlist his services are people whose lives are a mess. They are even more lost than Bob. And it turns out that he's much better at bringing order and self-sufficiency to their lives than to his own.

Carolyn See has a comic vision and a compassion for her characters that is hard to resist. She sends Bob careening from one dysfunctional household to another, fixing things that don't work, painting, gardening, running errands. And in the process, he has his own journey of self-discovery. Unexpectedly, Bob's jobs call for heroics and the patience of a saint. He saves a toddler from drowning, rescues an abandoned wife who can't drive a car or write a check, helps a widow discard her dead husband's belongings and discover a new life, and comes to the aid of two copeless young men, one of them in failing health.

In addition to his clients, the cast of characters includes his young housemates, whose transient lives converge improbably under the same roof. There is also his forlorn mother, staring blankly from her apartment window into the street below. The novel captures the bruising heat of summer in LA and the peculiar impermanence of a city where people's attachments are temporary, and creative inspiration can materialize in visions hovering over the traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard or across the concrete surrounding a backyard swimming pool.

Finally, The Handyman is a feel-good novel that encourages a kinder, gentler view of the City of Angels and the people who - even temporarily - call it home. 0345426606 I kind of loved this book. 4.5 stars. If Ann Tyler and California had a baby, they would have had The Handyman. Art, Angst, Creativity and lack thereof. I don't know how I missed reading Carolyn See before. 0345426606 Recommended by Alex I. 0345426606 I'm making my way through Carolyn See's books (this is my fourth) and I hope I can persuade others to discover her.

The best way to read the Handyman is to read the front section first--which is a fictional grant proposal written about an artist of cultural significance in the future. Then the book switches to the first person narrative of the young man who will become the artist. He lands in Paris to study art, but then immediately packs it all in and heads back to his home in Southern California. He picks up work as a handyman for the summer while waiting to return to school. He isn't the best handyman but he is good at fixing the lives of the people and families he encounters doing his work. He also discovers his own style of art as he works through the summer.

You might be tempted to go back and read the front section again while reading the main narrative, but my advice is don't do that. Wait until you've finished the book, and THEN go back and read the grant proposal. I did that and found the prologue to be delightful.

Pick up this book if you enjoy art, reading about California, and can enjoy the ways in which See can take a trope (young Handyman encountering housewives) and can bend the theme and make it something deeper. I can almost see Carolyn See winking at her editor and agent as she proposes a book with this title.
0345426606 A pleasant story, good for a quick read at the beach or on a long flight. Some funny and mildly interesting characters.

Probably easier to follow if you live in LA, since the city and some of its neighborhoods are the setting for most of the scenes, and by placing certain characters in specific neighborhoods, the author is making a point about the type of folks who live there and how they tend to see the world. But you can enjoy the story just as well without the knowledge.

An inspirational story in the end, but the author doesn't beat you over the head with it.

That said, if you're a huge believer in something like The Secret or similar self-belief type books, you'll probably give it five stars and find a lot more meaning in this book than is really there. But do your friends a favor and don't push this book on them (or The Secret, for that matter). It's just a nice story, that's all. 0345426606