“Well, son, there are a lot of moving parts at WilliamsJones and, right now, one of those gears is more in alignment with doing what looks right than what you personally want.”
“I know you’re good for it.”
Each new installment of the adventures of Nick and Carter takes us somewhere else in the world. The reader’s reaction to the specific plot art of any one book will probably determine how much they like that specific chapter in the Nick Williams saga. Two things that are always present: cars and other, bigger, modes of transportation (in this case a Boeing 707).
However, the real purpose of every one of these books is to help us explore Nick and Carter’s emotional development, individually and as a couple – and also the parallel development of the people around them whom they love. This epic series is at heart the story of a gay couple’s life, regardless of whether or not we think they’re superheroes, or whether or not there’s something supernatural afoot in the guise of the ghost of great-uncle Paul Williams.
I got less emotionally involved in this book than in others in the series – no surprise, since that’s what I’m attuned to. Nonetheless, I continued to be charmed and amused by Frank Butterfield’s ability to weave these tales out of his imagination, and to give them historical heft and emotional truth. No matter how fantastical things might get, the stories are always anchored in reality, and that makes them feel alive.
As a sidebar to seeing Angela Lansbury premiere in Mame on Broadway, Nick and Carter, and their old friends Ben and Mike, decide to take a motorcycle tour up the Hudson Valley. Alex and Marnie LeBeau are with them, although their plans are outside the central plot arc, other than involvement with an emerald necklace that may or may not have a curse on it.
Whatever happens in the story is always secondary to what we learn about Nick’s inner life and his ongoing maturation (at the age of 44) as a man in full. There is unfinished emotional business in this book, triggered by the motorcycles, and it stands out as a startling and poignant pivot point in Nick and Carter’s nineteen-year partnership. I laughed out loud at one point when Nick admits to a prospective employee that working for WilliamsJones generally involves both crying and kissing. This has been sort of an unspoken undercurrent from the very first book – men who weep because they feel, and men who kiss other men (yes, and women) because they are unafraid to show what they feel. It’s an oddly powerful truth, and one that underscores how different Butterfield’s reality is from the dominant reality of the 1950s and 60s (at least the one we were all allowed to experience as we grew up).
Because of Frank Butterfield’s “Eddie and Whit” series, we all have been allowed to know something of the full arc of Nick and Carter’s lives. We have also, thereby, learned the possible extent of the Nick and Carter book series. In other words, there’s a lot of them left in the author’s mind. Really a lot. Unless he gets bored and starts jumping decades. As is his right, after all.
But I’m not anxious for the cruise to end. Nick and Carter have become my gay parents (since they are in fact my parents’ age). It will be a long time before I want to let them go.
- Paperback: 398 pages
- Publisher: Independently Published (3 July 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1077884605
- ISBN-13: 978-1077884601
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 513 g
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