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Enon: A Novel by Paul Harding

Enon: A Novel

by Paul Harding

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The author has an amazing facility in rendering Charlie Crosby's overwhelming and debilitating grief as his life falls apart following his 14 yo daughter's death: vivid, hallucinatory to the point of mystical, incandescent. At the same time, the protagonist's over-the-top (or perhaps under-the-bottom) dissolution, and the author's relentlessly close focus on Charlie's self-destructive, drug-fueled free-fall became difficult to stay with through the length of this short novel. At a certain point, Charlie's nearly perfect isolation within his small town during the year following his daughter's death came to seem contrived, creating fissures in the fiction. The book was amply rewarding for the power and vivacity of the prose alone ... but despite the narrator's rich and informative narration about his world and family, and their storied history, it's the novel's narrow emotional focus that didn't quite come off for me. This was not the case for the author's first novel, TINKERS, or for Teju Cole's similarly-discursive novel OPEN CITY ... my experience of ENON was not a matter of distaste for this type of fiction, far from it. But I should say that the 'flaws' are only causing me to mark down this novel from the five stars its prose deserves to a four overall. I will definitely pick up Harding's future work. He is a novelist worth following. ( )
  smasover | Jul 18, 2015 |
I'm familiar with experiencing personal, heart rending loss, but less familiar with allowing that to let oneself fall into a terrible downward spiral that is this novel's main line. This book was a hard read. Perhaps that speaks to the writer's skill and integrity. Harding is a master with word choice, with verbs that pick and poke and stick, with lengthy, exploratory sentences, with a page or two trailing into dense and detailed imagining. Still this was a hard book to read. The downward spiral seemed of infinite depth, much of it anchored in life of the mind, imagination, dream, hallucination, drugs, and addiction. At times I was anxious to get back to some facts, some open-eyed, in the daylight events, to have the story move forward. I even skimmed through some of the lengthy hallucinatory pages, and considered putting the book down long before finishing. But the book never lost touch with its center. I was happy that I stuck it out. But this book was a hard read. ( )
1 vote jkennedybalto | Dec 20, 2014 |
This is a beautiful tale of the process of grief. ( )
  elizabeth.b.bevins | Nov 4, 2014 |
In my opinion this novel suffers from Post-Pulitzer Syndrome. The author won the Pulitzer prize for his previous work, Tinkers, which was quite a good book. Clearly the publisher saw the $$ signs light up and knew what "Pulitzer Prize winning author" on the cover does for a book sales and they got this into print as soon as possible, despite the fact that about 50% of it is complete rubbish. Harding even included a couple of characters from Tinkers to help trade on the success of his first work. Any book editor worth his/her salt should have excised vast proportions of this manuscript but clearly Mr Harding had the credentials to push it though and the profit-driven executives at Random House just wanted any Harding book on the shelves.

Unfortunately for me, the worst part of the book comes after the first 50 pages. If I had started with the rubbish part I would have invoked the Nancy Pearl rule and returned it to the library mostly unread. I was already committed, however, by the time the writing turned to mush and I felt I ought to keep reading to the bitter end. Sorry Paul, you're crossed off my list. I suggest you go back to playing the drums. ( )
  oldblack | Oct 9, 2014 |
This novel is the story of Charlie Crosby, who turns out to be the grandson of the protagonist in Harding's previous and wonderful novel, Thinkers. The first third of the book was very engaging and enjoyable, then the middle section wasn't as much of either, and, then, Harding redeemed himself in the last third of the book. The ending worked for me, but the book didn’t measure up highly for me. ( )
  jphamilton | Jul 27, 2014 |
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Most men in my family make widows of their wives and orphans of their children.
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Book description
Powerful, brilliantly written, and deeply moving Paul Harding has, in Enon, written a worthy successor to Tinkers, a debut which John Freeman on NPR called "a masterpiece." Drawn always to the rich landscape of his character's inner lives, here, through the first person narrative of Charlie Crosby (grandson to George Crosby of Tinkers), Harding creates a devastating portrait of a father trying desperately to come to terms with family loss.
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A grieving Charlie Crosby (grandson of Tinkers protagonist George Washington Crosby) attempts to come to terms with the death of his daughter, Kate, and the subsequent dissolution of his marriage.

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