Enon

( 10 )

Overview

Hailed as “a masterpiece” (NPR), Tinkers, Paul Harding’s Pulitzer Prize–winning debut, is a modern classic. The Dallas Morning News observed that “like Faulkner, Harding never shies away from describing what seems impossible to put into words.” Here, in Enon, Harding follows a year in the life of Charlie Crosby as he tries to come to terms with a shattering personal tragedy. Grandson of George Crosby (the protagonist of Tinkers), Charlie inhabits the same dynamic landscape of New England, its seasons mirroring ...

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Enon

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Overview

Hailed as “a masterpiece” (NPR), Tinkers, Paul Harding’s Pulitzer Prize–winning debut, is a modern classic. The Dallas Morning News observed that “like Faulkner, Harding never shies away from describing what seems impossible to put into words.” Here, in Enon, Harding follows a year in the life of Charlie Crosby as he tries to come to terms with a shattering personal tragedy. Grandson of George Crosby (the protagonist of Tinkers), Charlie inhabits the same dynamic landscape of New England, its seasons mirroring his turbulent emotional odyssey. Along the way, Charlie’s encounters are brought to life by his wit, his insights into history, and his yearning to understand the big questions. A stunning mosaic of human experience, Enon affirms Paul Harding as one of the most gifted and profound writers of his generation.

Advance praise for Paul Harding’s Enon
 
“Drawing upon the same New England landscape and family as his Pulitzer Prize–winning debut, Tinkers, Harding deftly captures loss and its consequences in this gorgeous and haunting follow-up. [Enon is] an elegiac portrait of a severed family and the town of Enon itself, and Harding again proves himself a contemporary master and one of our most important writers.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
Praise for Tinkers
 
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
and the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers
An American Library Association Notable Book
 
“In Paul Harding’s stunning first novel, we find what readers, writers and reviewers live for.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“There are few perfect debut American novels. Walter Percy’s The Moviegoer and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird come to mind. So does Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. To this list ought to be added Paul Harding’s devastating first book, Tinkers.”—NPR
 
Tinkers is truly remarkable. It achieves and sustains a unique fusion of language and perception. Its fine touch plays over the textured richnesses of very modest lives, evoking again and again a frisson of deep recognition, a sense of primal encounter with the brilliant, elusive world of the senses. It confers on the reader the best privilege fiction can afford, the illusion of ghostly proximity to other human souls.”—Marilynne Robinson
 
“A novel that you’ll want to savor . . . I found reading it to be an incredibly moving experience.”—Nancy Pearl

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Drawing upon the same New England landscape and family as his Pulitzer Prize–winning debut Tinkers, Harding deftly captures loss and its consequences in this gorgeous and haunting follow-up. The novel opens with a grieving Charlie Crosby (grandson of Tinkers protagonist George Washington Crosby) attempting to come to terms with the death of his daughter, Kate, and the subsequent dissolution of his marriage. Although the narrative is rendered through Charlie’s voice, the phenomenal prose on which Harding has staked his name comes out authentically, especially in the book’s darkest and most introspective moments: “I felt like a ghost, listless and confined, wandering in a house that had been mine a century ago, relegated to examining the details of the lives of strangers.” While the novel’s first half is mired in the cyclical self-obsession and self-hatred of grief, and slows to a crawl for a few too many flashbacks, Charlie’s eventual substance abuse and resulting hallucinations allow Harding to let his prose loose as he delves into the deepest aspects of loss and regret. Offering an elegiac portrait of a severed family and the town of Enon itself, Harding’s second novel again proves he’s a contemporary master and one of our most important writers. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (Sept. 10)
From the Publisher
Advance praise for Paul Harding’s Enon
 
“Drawing upon the same New England landscape and family as his Pulitzer Prize–winning debut, Tinkers, Harding deftly captures loss and its consequences in this gorgeous and haunting follow-up. [Enon is] an elegiac portrait of a severed family and the town of Enon itself, and Harding again proves himself a contemporary master and one of our most important writers.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Praise for Tinkers
 
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
and the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers
An American Library Association Notable Book
 
“In Paul Harding’s stunning first novel, we find what readers, writers and reviewers live for.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“There are few perfect debut American novels. Walter Percy’s The Moviegoer and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird come to mind. So does Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. To this list ought to be added Paul Harding’s devastating first book, Tinkers. . . . Harding has written a masterpiece.”—NPR
 
Tinkers is truly remarkable. It achieves and sustains a unique fusion of language and perception. Its fine touch plays over the textured richnesses of very modest lives, evoking again and again a frisson of deep recognition, a sense of primal encounter with the brilliant, elusive world of the senses. It confers on the reader the best privilege fiction can afford, the illusion of ghostly proximity to other human souls.”—Marilynne Robinson
 
“A novel that you’ll want to savor . . . I found reading it to be an incredibly moving experience.”—Nancy Pearl
 
“Like Faulkner, Harding never shies away from describing what seems impossible to put into words.”The Dallas Morning News

Kirkus Reviews
The author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Tinkers (2009) returns with another striking study of family, time and mortality. This time, though, Harding's style is less knotty, almost Hemingway-esque, at least in its opening pages. That's in part due to the fact that he has a clearer story to tell: This book covers a year in the life of Charlie Crosby (a descendant of the clan introduced in Tinkers) as he mourns the death of his 13-year-old daughter in an accident. After smashing his hand against a wall in a rage, he loses his wife and develops a slow-growing addiction to painkillers and alcohol that leads him to break-ins and other foolhardy decisions. But Harding is less concerned with plot as with what's swimming in Charlie's head, and themes of nature and time abound. His narration shifts from past to present, from memories of his daughter to his nature walks in New England to his helping his father repair a clock in a home that has an orrery--a model of the solar system that symbolizes the symphonic breadth of nature and the universality of his struggle. Harding's work owes much to his former teacher Marilynne Robinson, with whom he shares an affinity for precise, religious-tinged prose. The penultimate chapters of the book, however, display a unique hallucinatory style: As Charlie's grief reaches its apex, he's consumed by dark visions, and Harding's skillful whipsawing of the reader from the surreal to the quotidian is the best writing he's done. Though the final pages bend the story safely back to a familiar redemption arc, Charlie's experience doesn't feel commonplace. His trip to hell and back envisions a different kind of hell, and his status as "back," just as in the real world, isn't guaranteed. Beautifully turned: Harding has defogged his style a bit and gained a stronger emotional impact from it.
From the Publisher
“Harding conveys the common but powerful bond of parental love with devastating accuracy. . . . Enon confirms what the Pulitzer jury decided: Paul Harding—no longer a ‘find’—is a major voice in American fiction.”Chicago Tribune
 
“Paul Harding’s novel Tinkers won the Pulitzer Prize; its stunning successor, Enon, only raises the bar.”O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“An extraordinary follow-up to the author’s Pulitzer Prize–winning debut . . . Harding’s subject is consciousness rooted in a contemporary moment but bound to a Puritan past. His prose is steeped in a visionary, transcendentalist tradition that echoes Blake, Rilke, Emerson, and Thoreau, and makes for a darkly intoxicating read.”The New Yorker
 
“So wild and riveting it’s practically an aria . . . Harding is a superb stylist.”Entertainment Weekly

“Without blurring the sharply lucid nightmares and recollections, Mr. Harding pushes Charlie’s madness to a crisis point of destruction or renewal. The journey to the depths of his grief is unforgettably stark and sad. But that sadness, shaped by a gifted writer’s caressing attention, can also bring about moments of what Charlie calls ‘brokenhearted joy.’”The Wall Street Journal
 
“Harding is an extraordinary writer, for the intoxicating power of his prose, the range of his imagination, and above all for the redemptive humanity of his vision. With painstaking brilliance, Enon charts one man’s attempt to salvage meaning from meaningless tragedy, to endure the ubiquitous presence of a loved one’s absence. A superb account of the banality and uniqueness of bereavement, it more than earns its place alongside such non-fictional classics as Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and CS Lewis’s A Grief Observed. That Enon is a work of fiction that feels authentic as memoir makes it all the more astonishing.”—Rebecca Abrams, Financial Times
 
Enon is Joan Didion’s Blue Nights on major meds. . . . Time was the subject of Tinkers as grief is the subject of Enon. The two are related, like father and sons. Read Enon to live longer in the harsh, gorgeous atmosphere that Paul Harding has created.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Paul Harding’s excellent second novel . . . is a lovely book about grief, the ways in which we punish ourselves for feeling it, and, ultimately, how we rebuild our lives even when they seem unsalvageable.”—New York Daily News
 
“Harding’s mythic sensibility, soaring empathy for his devastated yet life-loving protagonist, comedic embrace of the absurd, and exquisite receptivity to the beauty and treachery of the living world make for one astonishingly daring, gripping, and darkly resplendent novel of all-out grief and crawling-from-the-ruins survival.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“Drawing upon the same New England landscape and family as his Pulitzer Prize–winning debut Tinkers, Harding deftly captures loss and its consequences in this gorgeous and haunting follow-up. . . . Offering an elegiac portrait of a severed family and the town of Enon itself, Harding’s second novel again proves he’s a contemporary master and one of our most important writers.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“As Charlie’s grief reaches its apex, he’s consumed by dark visions, and Harding’s skillful whipsawing of the reader from the surreal to the quotidian is the best writing he’s done.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400069439
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/10/2013
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 983,622
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Harding

Paul Harding is the author of the novel Tinkers, which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers. He was a fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard University, and Grinnell College.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Enon begins with Kate’s death. Why do you think Paul Harding put her death up front? How did facing her death on the first page affect your reading of the novel and your expectations for the plot?

2. Much of the story involves Charlie’s family history and connections to the past, but without Kate and Susan, Charlie is the last Crosby in Enon: “My whole family made a circumference of ghosts, with me the sole living member in the middle.” How does this fact add to and change how he mourns his daughter?

3. What role has the town of Enon itself played in Charlie’s life? How does the place contain and amplify his grief?

4. As Charlie spirals deeper into his despair and into addiction, he feels shame for what he has become and how his life has decayed. What does Charlie’s story have to say about the personal responsibility of a grieving person? To whom does he feel responsible? Are there boundaries to dealing with loss?

5. While remembering Kate, Charlie also imagines different scenarios in which she is alive, including a scene where he imagines multiple Kates. How do these imagined scenes reflect Charlie’s grief or his real life in any given moment?

6. Harding writes many beautiful passages to convey Charlie’s inner life. How does Harding’s writing immerse readers directly in Charlie’s life? Are there any passages in particular that made his experience real for you?

7. At the end of the book, Charlie faces two anniversaries—a year since Kate’s death, and her fourteenth birthday. He is then recovering from his addictions. What turned Charlie toward recovery? How does he begin to turn things around?

8. Charlie lets Susan go with relatively little struggle. It becomes clear early on that while Susan and Charlie loved each other, Kate bound them together. What do you think of the way Susan’s response to Kate’s death is portrayed, and of her separation from Charlie?

9. How do drugs change Charlie and how he handles loss?

10. Throughout the novel, Charlie creates routines to help him get from day to day. How do his routines help him cope with his loss? How do they serve both to isolate him from the world and, later, to help him re-enter it?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    If you are looking for a read that is full of plot twists and tu

    If you are looking for a read that is full of plot twists and turns, feel good characters and a happy ending, then you would be well advised to give this tragic book a miss.  If you are prepared to dive into its pages, you may be surprised at the emotions it evokes in you.

    Without revealing spoilers, this novel is a journey into hell via the grief and anguish of one man.  We see how this duo enables his year-long addiction to alcohol and drugs, alienates those he loves and are trying to support him, and generally takes him on a downward spiral few of us could imagine going on. This novel takes the reader to the brink of the character’s madness, as we are trapped inside his head during his periods of hallucinations and flashbacks while he struggles unsuccessfully to come to grips with the destroying loss he has suffered.

    To pull no punches, this is a grim and almost depressing book, but the Author has written it beautifully and with great assurance; bringing to the page something that needs to be read to understand that we, although of the same species, do not cope with grief in the same way.  The book is written in the first person narrative, and this style is  very effective in making this novel believable as we drift with the main protagonist further from his hold on reality.

    I did find in some places that the book was a little disjointed and rambling, whether or not this was intentional on the part of the Author to play into the whole mind of the main character I don’t know, but it was a little distracting at times and pulled away some of my enjoyment in this read.  Also, not being a voyeur, I found this book to give me an uncomfortable feeling as if I were intruding in a place I really should not have been, and this again detracted from my enjoyment.  The unending flow of misery and isolation really began to pull me down in the end, and I was relieved when I finally turned the last page and was able to set this aside.

    Although the book was definitely not for me, I gave it a three thumbs rating because of the way in which it is written.  It is rich in prose and the visual landscapes of settings and emotions the reader encounters as they ‘journey’ through the book, were written in such a way as to demonstrate the command of the pen this Author appears to have.

    If you enjoy reading about another’s pain, be it self-induced or inflicted on them by forces beyond their control, this is probably a read you would enjoy, other than those in this area I really couldn’t recommend this novel to readers of any one particular genre.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 10, 2013

    From the opening lines of the book Enon, "Most men in my fa

    From the opening lines of the book Enon, "Most men in my family make widows of their wives and orphans their children. I am the exception,"
    the reader realizes they are joining the protagonist, Charlie Crosby, on a difficult path to find understanding and peace amidst tragedy.
    As I began of the book, I was taken back to my first reading of The Stranger, where Albert Camus's protagonist delivers news of his mother's death with terse prose that does not include judgement or emotion. Charlie shares simple statements of his daughter Kate's death that reflect his shock and his need to keep his emotions at bay. Though he does his best to escape his emotions, Charlie finds them unbridled at the subconscious level and he visits with Kate in his dreams. 
    Throughout the story, Charlie has difficulty grasping the reality of his loss, and through this trying process tries escape his own thoughts. In the background we see the dissolution of his doomed marriage as he is overwhelmed with his need to examine his own life and its meaning. 
    Charlie's life unravels during his difficult intrapersonal journey. Charlie reflects on the experiences of his past, who he is and where he came from in his struggle for inner peace. His reflections move in time between his youth and his past with Kate. 
    The title of the book Enon is a reference to AEnon of the bible where John the Baptist performed his baptisms. Reading this story of Charlie and the difficulties that he wrestles with, we are hoping that he can find life anew from the healing waters of the Enon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2014

    As light hearted and bemusing as a self inflictedgunshot wound

    ,
    This book is like reliving that summer before you started antidepressants and everyone in your life knew you were depressed but you thought you just needed some comfort food and to re up on bath and body works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

    Powerful writing

    Intense descriptions of psychological tangents by a suffering addict.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2014

    Ove or obessiin Love or obsession

    Love Mr. Harding's descriptive abilities.
    I can actually feel the New England fog at dawn.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2013

    Beautiful book touchingly written about the grief and pain a parent suffers with the loss of a child+

    Paul Harding captures the intense grief of a parent whose child is killed. He honestly conveys the pain of a parent in this situation and the difficulty of finding a way to go on. He is a beautiful writer and this, like Tinkers, is an outstanding book that I would highly recommend.

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  • Posted October 8, 2013

    What a sad, sad book. Having lost a much older child in a tragi

    What a sad, sad book. Having lost a much older child in a tragic accident, I could identify with Charlie’s loss, pain, and lack of will to continue living. However, unlike Charlie, I had the love and support of my husband, other children, family, and friends. This is a heart-wrenching story about poor Charlie, who makes his daughter, Kate, his life. When she is killed, he has no boundaries; no job; no apparent friends; his wife leaves him; he has nothing left to define his life; turns to drugs and alcohol; and, “lives” in the past and dreams. Many times, I was hoping in the next chapter that Charlie would finally reach the depths of his despair and pull himself back together. A sad, sad tale.

    I received a free copy of Enon through Goodreads First Reads.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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