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 seven 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. Heartbreaking and life affirming, TINKERS is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.
- Hardback | 192 pages
- 138 x 204 x 22mm | 305g
- 01 Jul 2010
- William Heinemann Ltd
- London, United Kingdom
"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 Gilead and Home "Prepare to be seduced...Sometimes a novel beguiles from the opening sentence. Paul Harding's seductive Pulitzer-winning debut does precisely that in a rare narrative of laconic grace and philosophical practicality...This little novel is a wonder; its tone, poised between the conversational and the formal, is quietly insistent...Not only has Harding written a life story re-created through a series of dream-like flashbacks; he also demonstrates the exciting possibilities of narrative through his use of time shifts, wordplay, voices and changing viewpoints. His choice of words is emphatic, precise and physical...The grace of it appears so effortless; it is easy to overlook the technical skill, the shimmering movements and the use of clockwork mechanisms as a device. The story and the stories within it flow like water over stones...Something sacred and strange and wise beyond belief, beyond mere understanding itself, sustains Harding's tale of one man's death travels deep into the mystery of life and living" Irish Times "A wonderful, lyrical evocation of life in the backwoods of New England...Harding's "little novel", though modest in word count and page numbers, is anything but small...Harding's genius is his prose, incantatory as poetry, sure in its rhythm and balance, a wonderfully confident, singsong reiteration of the mundane details of three lifetimes of struggle against the poverty and climatic ferocity of the backwoods of New England. Modest in size, Tinkers is a triumphant exercise in American pastoralism, in which no seedhead, blade of grass or pebble is unworthy of notice. Harding's response to the natural world has that sharpness of focus John Ruskin once implored from the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite movement in their paintings. Like the Pre-Raphaelites' vision of nature, it has the same effect of irradiating the commonplace with intimations of greatness and divine grandeur...It is a beautiful, moving and elegiac lament on the human condition couched in hypnotic prose" The Times "Tinkers is not just a novel - though it is a brilliant novel. It's an instruction manual on how to look at nearly everything...Read this book and marvel" -- Elizabeth McCracken "Tinkers is a remarkable piece of work" -- Barry Unsworth
About Paul Harding
Paul Harding has an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop (2000) and was a 2000-2001 Fiction Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center, in Provincetown, MA. He has published short stories in Shakepainter and The Harvard Review. Paul currently teaches creative writing at Harvard. Tinkers is his first novel.