Tinkers is a haunting little book that weaves together the story of George Crosby, who is dying, with the story of his father, Howard Crosby. As George lies hallucinating, he tries to untangle the threads of his youth and finally come to grips with the enigma that is his father. Howard is an epileptic at a time in history when being so gets one labeled "insane." He suffers under that burden and finds a way of dealing with it that will haunt his son forever. Paul Harding writes like no one you've ever read: lyrical, poetic, spare, and lush. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
“This compact, adamantine début 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 New Yorker
“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.”—The Boston Globe
“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
“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 a remarkable piece of work…fascinating—and sometimes horrific—to read, and is cumulatively 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
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.
Paul Harding has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches creative writing at Harvard. He lives in Georgetown, Massachusetts.
"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." Publishers Weekly (starred review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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
"Tinkers is a remarkable piece of work... fascinating and sometimes horrific to read, and is cumulatively moving because it is woven together into the single quilt of our humanity." Barry Unsworth
"Every so often (and this must happen to you too) a writer describes something so well snow, oranges, dirt that you can smell it or feel it or sense it in the room. The writing does what all those other art forms do evoke the essence of the thing. In this astonishing novel, Paul Harding creates a New England childhood, beginning with the landscape." Susan Salter Reynolds, L.A. Times
"A beautifully written meditation on life, death, the passage of time and man's eternal attempt to harness it... one of 2009's most intriguing debuts." Carole Goldberg, Hartford Courant
"Harding's rendering is replete with a fantastic array of forehead-slapping ruminations and observations and adroit and elegiac turns of phrases... A remarkable book." Robert Birnbaum, The Morning News
"Harding is a first-rate writer, and his fascination with what makes his characters tick recommends him as a philosopher, as well." Jonathan Messinger, Time Out Chicago
An old man lies dying. Confined to bed in his living room, he sees the walls around him begin to collapse, the windows come loose from their sashes, and the ceiling plaster fall off in great chunks, showering him with a lifetime of debris: newspaper clippings, old photographs, wool jackets, rusty tools, and the mangled brass works of antique clocks. Soon, the clouds from the sky above plummet down on top of him, followed by the stars, till the black night covers him like a shroud. He is hallucinating, in death throes from cancer and kidney failure.
A methodical repairer of clocks, he is now finally released from the usual constraints of time and memory to rejoin his father, an epileptic, itinerant peddler, whom he had lost 7 decades before. In his return to the wonder and pain of his impoverished childhood in the backwoods of Maine, he recovers a natural world that is at once indifferent to man and inseparable from him, menacing and awe inspiring.
Tinkers is about the legacy of consciousness and the porousness of identity from one generation the next. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, it is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.
An astonishing first novel of memory, consciousness, and man's place in the natural world.
Pulitzer Prize Winner and New York Times Bestseller
There are few perfect debut American novels. . . . To this list ought to be added Paul Hardings devastating first book, Tinkers. . . . Harding has written a masterpiece.” NPR
In Paul Hardings stunning first novel, we find what readers, writers and reviewers live for.” San Francisco Chronicle
Tinkers is truly remarkable.” Marilynne Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Home, Gilead, and Housekeeping
An old man lies dying. Propped up in his living room and surrounded by his children and grandchildren, George Washington Crosby drifts in and out of consciousness, back to the wonder and pain of his impoverished childhood in Maine. As the clock repairers time winds down, his memories intertwine with those of his father, an epileptic, itinerant peddler and his grandfather, a Methodist preacher beset by madness. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, Tinkers is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, illness, faith, and the fierce beauty of nature.
Paul Harding is the author of two novels about multiple generations of a New England family: the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tinkers and Enon. He has taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop, Harvard University, and Grinnell College. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times-bestselling debut novel about memory, consciousness, and mans place in the natural world.
About the Author
Paul Harding has an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has taught writing at Harvard and The University of Iowa. He lives near Boston with his wife and two sons. This is his first novel.