Tinkers

Tinkers

3.0 262
by Paul Harding
     
 

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An old man lies dying. As time collapses into memory, he travels deep into his past where he is reunited with his father and relives the wonder and pain of his impoverished New England youth. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, Tinkers is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature. See more details below

Overview

An old man lies dying. As time collapses into memory, he travels deep into his past where he is reunited with his father and relives the wonder and pain of his impoverished New England youth. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, Tinkers is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Harding's outstanding debut unfurls the history and final thoughts of a dying grandfather surrounded by his family in his New England home. George Washington Crosby repairs clocks for a living and on his deathbed revisits his turbulent childhood as the oldest son of an epileptic smalltime traveling salesman. The descriptions of the father's epilepsy and the "cold halo of chemical electricity that encircled him immediately before he was struck by a full seizure" are stunning, and the household's sadness permeates the narrative as George returns to more melancholy scenes. The real star is Harding's language, which dazzles whether he's describing the workings of clocks, sensory images of nature, the many engaging side characters who populate the book, or even a short passage on how to build a bird nest. This is an especially gorgeous example of novelistic craftsmanship. (Jan.)

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Library Journal

George Washington Crosby has eight days to live. After this first line, the life of George and of his father, Howard, who left when George was 12, is explored through the metaphor of George's hobby of repairing clocks. Howard was a peddler, traveling with a cart and mule through eastern Maine around the turn of the century. This isolated profession allowed him to keep his affliction, epilepsy, successfully hidden from most everyone until, finally, his wife decides he has to be institutionalized for the safety of her children. It is to avoid this that Howard disappears. George, as he lays dying, considers his life and family coming in and out of reality and history. Harding, an MFA from Iowa Writer's Workshop, creates a beautifully written study of father-son relationships and the nature of time. This short work is a solid addition for larger literary collections. Recommended.
—Josh Cohen

The New Yorker
This compact, adamantine debut dips in and out of the consciousness of a New England patriarch named George Washington Crosby as he lies dying on a hospital bed in his living room, 'right where they put the dining room table, fitted with its two extra leaves for holiday dinners'-- In Harding's skillful evocation, Crosby's life, seen from its final moments, becomes a mosaic of memories, 'showing him a different self every time he tried to make an assessment.'
The Boston Globe
Harding's interest is in the universalities: nature and time and the murky character of memory. . . The small, important recollections are rendered with an exactitude that is poetic. . . Harding's prose is lyrical and specific...Tinkers is a poignant exploration of where we may journey when the clock has barely a tick or two left and we really can't go anywhere at all.
From the Publisher

Accolades for Tinkers

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner
PEN / Robert W. Bingham Prize Winner
American Library Association Notable Book
New York Times Bestseller

Also . . . an American Booksellers Association Indie Choice Honor Award recipient, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist selection, Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum First Fiction Award Finalist, and Center For Fiction Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize Finalist

Named one of the best books of the year by the New Yorker, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, Irish Times, Granta, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and National Public Radio

Praise for Tinkers

“A powerful celebration of life in which a New England father and son, through suffering and joy, transcend their imprisoning lives and offer new ways of perceiving the world and mortality.” —Pulitzer Prize citation

“An exquisite novel, at once fresh and hauntingly familiar, simple and profound, told with a voice so keen and beautiful as to leave the reader in a state of excitement produced only by literature, and the best literature at that.” —PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Prize citation

“In this lyrical novel, the life of a dying man is examined through the smallest moments of time and memory.” —American Library Association Notable Book citation

“An exquisitely written novel that captures the mysteries of relationships, memories and time passing in language that is both spare and lyrical. It is a true gem that sparkles with thoughtfulness, intelligence and life.” —International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist nominee citation (from the New Hampshire State Library)

“There are few perfect debut American novels. . . . To this list ought to be added Paul Harding’s devastating first book, Tinkers. . . . Harding has written a masterpiece.” —NPR Best Debut Fiction of the Year

“A complex reflection on memory, consciousness, and the meaning of life.” —Diane Rehm Show “Readers’ Review” Book Club

“A novel that you’ll want to savor. . . . I found reading it to be an incredibly moving experience. . . . This book begs to be read aloud.” —Nancy Pearl, KUOW.org

“This compact, adamantine début dips in and out of the consciousness of a New England patriarch . . . In Harding’s skillful evocation, Crosby’s life, seen from its final moments, becomes a mosaic of memories.” —New Yorker

“Alive with gorgeous sentences.” —Elle

“A perfect read for reflection and short enough to finish in an afternoon.” —First for Women

“[An] astonishing novel.” —Los Angeles Times

“In Paul Harding’s stunning first novel, we find what readers, writ­ers and reviewers live for.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Tinkers is a poignant exploration of where we may journey when the clock has barely a tick or two left and we really can’t go any­where at all.” —Boston Globe

“The life and death questions Paul Harding raises in Tinkers, as well as the richness of his writing, keep a reader coming back to it. . . . Like Faulkner, he never shies away from describing what seems impossible to put into words.” —Dallas Morning News

“Vivid and original . . . Tinkers [is] going to be around for a long, long time.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“This beautiful novel is sui generis; the most insignificant events . . . radiate fire and light.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Few contemporary writers have [Harding’s] gift for uniting language and nature through a powerful imagination. Tinkers is a father-son story told with skill, depth and beauty.” —Concord Monitor

“Stunning . . . Writing in an economical style and transcendental spirit reminiscent of his friend and mentor, the award-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson, Harding, who apprenticed with his horologist grandfather, uses the clock as a metaphor for the cosmos and its deeper intricacies and mysteries.” —Louisville Courier-Journal

“This Cinderella winner of the Pulitzer Prize is alive with miraculous sentences.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Tantalizing . . . Tinkers takes an uncompromising look at the complex emotional geometry that exists between parents and children.” —London Review of Books

“Harding is a first-rate writer, and his fascination with what makes his characters tick recommends him as a philosopher, as well.” —Time Out Chicago

“This is a book so meticulously assembled that vocabulary choices like ‘craquelure’ and ‘scrieved’—far from seeming pretentious—serve as reminders of how precise and powerful a tool good English can be.” —Christian Science Monitor

“A novel with an old-fashioned meditative quality so perfectly done that it is refreshing to read in a world filled with noises and false excitements. . . . It brings the reader to a closer understanding of his own life than he could have imagined before taking the journey.” —Yiyun Li, Granta.com Best Books of the Year

“Unique, captivating, and a measure more magical than most other contemporary novels.” —Guernica: A Magazine of Arts and Politics

“A luminous novel . . . that is not about death but instead an investigation into what life is all about. . . . The precipice is what Harding is so concentrated on, as though he were holding a magnifying glass up under bright sunlight and setting fire to the page.” —Quarterly Conversation

“Quiet, moving, breathtakingly crafted.” —Library Journal Best Books of the Year

“Writing with breathtaking lyricism and tenderness, Harding has created a rare and beautiful novel of spiritual inheritance and acute psychological and metaphysical suspense.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Outstanding . . . The real star is Harding’s language, which dazzles whether he’s describing the workings of clocks, sensory images of nature, the many engaging side characters who populate the book, or even a short passage on how to build a bird nest. This is an especially gorgeous example of novelistic craftsmanship.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Filled with lovely Whitmanesque descriptions of the natural world, this slim novel gives shape to the extraordinary variety in the thoughts of otherwise ordinary men.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This excellent debut proves Harding to be a writer of exceptional poise, possessing clear-eyed skill and, like his characters, a steady hand for the finest of details.” —Rumpus

“Paul Harding’s Tinkers is not just a novel—though it is a brilliant novel. It’s an instruction manual on how to look at nearly everything. Harding takes the back off to show you the miraculous ticking of the natural world, the world of clocks, generations of family, an epileptic brain, the human soul. In astounding language sometimes seemingly struck by lightning, sometimes as tight and complicated as clockwork, Harding shows how enormous fiction can be, and how economical. Read this book and marvel.” —Elizabeth McCracken, author of Niagara Falls All Over Again

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, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Home, Gilead, and Housekeeping

“A work of great power and originality. There is a striking freedom of style here, which allows the author to move without any sense of strain or loss of balance from the visionary and ecstatic to the exquisitely precise. The novel is compelling to read, sometimes horrific, and deeply moving because it is woven together into the single quilt of our humanity.” —Barry Unsworth, Booker Prize-winning author of The Ruby in Her Navel

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781934137192
Publisher:
Bellevue Literary Press
Publication date:
01/01/2009
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
899,993
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.90(d)

What People are saying about this

Barry Unsworth
"Tinkers is a remarkable piece of work, fascinating, and sometimes horrific, to read, and iscumulatively moving because it is woven together into the single quilt of our humanity."--(Barry Unsworth, Booker Prize winning author of The Ruby in Her Navel)
Marilynne Robinson
Tinkers is truly remarkable. It confers on the reader the best privilege fiction can afford, the illusion of ghostly proximity to other human souls."--(Marilynne Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Home and Gilead)
Elizabeth McCracken
"In astounding language sometimes seemingly struck by lightning, sometimes as tight and complicated as clockwork, Harding shows how enormous fiction can be, and how economical. Read this book and marvel."--(Elizabeth McCracken, author of Niagara Falls All Over Again)

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