Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: Tinkers

Title: Tinkers
Author: Paul Harding
Published: 2009, Bellevue Literary Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Accolades: 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Spoiler Alert

George is dying. He has lived a long and fruitful life, but he has one regret - he has lost contact with his father who left George's family when George was a boy. As his body slowly shuts down his mind loses it's concept of time and his thoughts begin to wander from past to present as he recounts the moments and people who have shaped him.

In his first novel Paul Harding has written an original story about family and lose. The story is free flowing because it is the random thoughts of a man who is lying in his hospital bed dying. The story line changes back and forth between past and present as George thinks about his life and his hobby "tinkering" with old clocks and George's father Howard who was a "tinker" who traveled throughout northern Maine and Canada. Once you understand the pattern of this patternless book the imagery and the ethereal style of Harding's writing is almost magical. When trying to understanding the coldness of George's mother Harding lets you into her deepest thoughts - the thoughts one even hides from oneself:

" It is winter, and the tree has been stripped of its bright mantle of leaves. It is winter because she lies awake with a bare heart, trying to remember a full season. She thinks, I must have been a young woman once." (page 88, Tinkers)

When Harding explains why Howard left his family and never came back, he does it by comparing Howard's new wife and the wife he left in one powerfully written sentence:

"Howard brought her flowers every day, and oranges... He lifted his nose from a crate of limes, refreshed and eager to get home to a wife who spoke words out loud as she thought them up and held nothing to whirl and eddy to collect in brackish silences, silences that broke like thin ice beneath you to announce your drowning." (page 174, Tinkers)

I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a book of many layers that left me thinking about it days after I read it. I don't keep many books that I read, but I will keep this one to reread when I want delve into another layer of this powerful book.

My Rating: 5 out of 5

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