A Happy Holiday (A Nick Williams Mystery) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2018/1/18
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Monday, December 19, 1955
It's early in the morning and Carter is worried that he and Nick won't be warm enough for their Christmas trip to Vermont.
Nick, for his part, is wondering if they will ever be able to return to the big pile of rocks he's finally come to love. An exile in France isn't the worst thing in the world but still...
But before they can get much more than halfway from San Francisco to Vermont, they discover that the mob is after them and is on their tails, chasing them across the country as they take planes, trains, and automobiles.
They finally get to Vermont, all covered in freshly-fallen white snow, and begin to wonder if it will be their last Christmas, after all.
I think I thought it was a Christmas short, and not part of the main series. Well, I was wrong. “A Happy Holiday” is a lynchpin in the Nick and Carter adventures. It is another step in the startling journey these two young men have taken since they appeared from Frank Butterfield’s pen. It is, in spite of its title, possibly the darkest of all of the books, because Nick is haunted by death, both past deaths and the threat of his own, throughout the story.
We follow Nick and Carter and their extended family across the country in a desperate quest to have one last Christmas together before they begin their exile to France. In the crosshairs of everyone from J. Edgar Hoover to the San Francisco Mob, Nick is finally beginning to see the real downside of being the most famous homosexual in the world. Even his money, he realizes, can’t keep him out of danger.
Once again, Frank Butterfield has done marvelous background research to create authentic settings that bring the book, and the historical period alive. He has played (quite openly) fast and loose with historical reality. This is in complete harmony with my vision of Nick and Carter as a sort of rich gay Batman and Robin (who, frankly, were really pretty gay). Butterfield posits a world that, while full of homophobia and plain meanness of spirit, was also full of allies in unexpected places. Nick’s real super power is finding people who either need his help or are willing to help him.
People also say “I love you” a lot in this book, and that’s a crucial element, especially with the off-kilter holiday theme of the narrative. Love is exactly what gay folks did not have in the bad 1950s (this story takes place the year I was born). Gay men and women sought community below the radar of 1950s moralism and conformity, but often couldn’t find it. Butterfield looks at a fantasy world of gay interconnectedness, and makes us wonder, at least, if it might not have been at least partly true. Ultimately, the power of these supposedly light-hearted books is the way they highlight how badly gay people were treated my lifetime, and how dramatically different today is, with all the uncertainties we still face as a community. Even with all the money that Nick and Carter have, it is ultimately the love surrounding them, and the love they give to others, that is their salvation.