Poff, Nick. “The Handyman’s Storm”, Old Space Productions, 2021.
I have been reading Nick Poff’s “Handyman stories for years now and feel I have a relationship with the characters as I read of their experiences in life. “The Handyman’s Storm” is the sixth volume in the series (each book, however, stands alone and can be read separate from the others).
Here we find ourselves in the fall of 1989, a time of loss that Ed, the handyman and his partner Rick face. It was a time when our community was being devastated by the AIDS epidemic and the two men deal with the loss of a dear friend, Doug, who lost the battle. They are in mourning yet they decide that they must continue their lives as they had always done. They are dealt another blow when Effie Maude, their longtime Penfield Manor housekeeper, decides to retire. Coping has become difficult for the two men to the extent that a gap has come between them. To add to their problems, their foster son, Rex, is dealing with his own issues, unexpected guests have shown up at Penfield Manor and one of Ed’s clients presents new complications to their lives. It is not enough that they have to deal with the loss of their friend but also to rebuild their relationship.
The guys are very lucky to have a circle of friends and families that are there for comfort and companionship and are willing to be with them during this rough period. Ed and Rick are aging but their love for each other remains young and they manage to deal with what they have to face. All of us have had to deal with similar situations, wondering if we are going to make it through or not. We often try to sublimate how we feel and this makes us all the more vulnerable for even more distress. For whatever reason, like Ed, we come to a point in life that we do not want to share our feelings with others or face what we feel internally. Eventually, however, we do have to face ourselves and question how we reached such a point and try to figure out how we got there. Seeing this through the lives of Ed and Rick can, hopefully, make it easier to do so for us. Even as a couple, they are each an individual and have their individual views on how to move forward. Through their differences and the respect that they share for each other, they were able to face themselves, each other and their friends. Sure, there were breakdowns and conflicts but there was also love and the realization of being alive and keeping going.
Nick Poff is a terrific writer and here he takes us into the world of emotions. By reading this, we get ideas about how to deal with ourselves when hard times happen. As James Joyce says in the first sentence of his short story, “Eveline”, “Everything changes”. It is up to us to change or stay behind. While this is a novel about two gay man, what it has to say is both relevant and universal.