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Tinkers by Paul Harding
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Tinkers

by Paul Harding

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2,0571433,199 (3.44)273
2010 (19) 2011 (11) 21st century (16) American (21) American literature (23) book club (12) clocks (34) death (55) dying (32) ebook (21) epilepsy (46) family (25) fathers (14) fathers and sons (23) fiction (310) Kindle (25) literary fiction (12) literature (34) Maine (16) memory (18) New England (38) novel (55) old age (12) Pulitzer (59) Pulitzer Prize (86) Pulitzer Prize Winner (17) read (18) read in 2010 (26) to-read (40) USA (12)
  1. 11
    Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Anonymous user)
  2. 00
    The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (Miels)
    Miels: Similar prose style and similar emphasis on social isolation.
  3. 00
    Evening by Susan Minot (novelcommentary)
    novelcommentary: Both begin with a dying protagonist who clings to a memory of the past. In Minot's book, it has to do with an affair that may have been her true love.
  4. 00
    The Driftless Area by Tom Drury (speakfreelynow)
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» See also 273 mentions

English (138)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (143)
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
I received an Early Reviewers copy of this book from LibraryThing, and I am grateful for the opportunity to read this.

I can see how this is a love it or hate it book! It is beautifully written, but it can be slow paced at times. I found that I liked it much more when I got to Chapter 2. It is a book that I think everyone give it a shot, and see... I think it is a 3.5 stars, but I rounded up, as I really liked some of the thoughts, stories, and reflections written so poetically. ( )
  patsaintsfan | Apr 15, 2014 |
The strength of Tinkers is, unquestionably, the quality of its prose, which is exceptional. Yet the novel's other elements – its plot, its themes, and its characters – felt to me to come up short, in a way that its language just couldn't make up for. Ultimately, Harding's talents as a writer (which are manifest throughout) seemed undirected, or worse yet, wasted. He demonstrates in this novel that he can articulate that which would otherwise seem ineffable, but a novel must do more than just this, and in the end Tinkers simply didn't come together for me in the way I would've hoped.

Admittedly, many sections of the novel are extraordinary: the last several pages, and really all of George's scenes, as well as the various descriptions of nature and meditations on clocks. But in between these poetic moments, I did not feel invested in the story, and rather felt that I was just reading for the writing, and not for much else. This isn't totally a bad thing, of course: first, because Harding's writing is just that good; and second, because fiction isn't all about plot and such, either. Yet I do feel that a better balance could've been struck between the lyrical and the narrative in this work. ( )
  williecostello | Mar 26, 2014 |
I can accept this book, I suppose, as an extended prose poem. It has the dense imagery and dreamlike quality of a poem, scenes shifting between person, place, time with little or no transition. It's a book more focused on it's own poetic language than on plot, more on ideas than on people, with the people only really serving as a framework for philosophical exploration. The language is often beautiful, but is sometimes hard to follow. This is a book that's requires analysis and deciphering, a book that requires extra mental work to get through and make sense of.

The story, such as it is, centers more or less on George, who is on his deathbed as an old man. Hallucinations begin to mix with flashes of his life and with long pondering on the nature of the universe and of life and death.

It also explores the life of his father, Howard, who had epilepsy and was a salesman and journeyed through the backwoods with a donkey and a cart to sell to the people who lived far from town. While the story is supposed to be mostly about George, it's Howard that we really gain a greater understanding of, a greater sense of who he is as a person. But even that sense is emotionally distant due to the density of the language.

Tinkers is especially hard to follow on audio book, because the scenes switch fairly often and it's not always clear that it moved on to a new section, at first, and there were times that because of this I mixed up whether the narrator was talking about George's life or Howard's (though maybe that's partly the point, since their lives are paralleled).

While I like how the threads ultimately weaved together at the end, I'm not sure I love the book as a whole. I might read it again later on in print format, so that I can really revel in the language, like I do with poetry, because it's the language and structure that really make the story worthwhile. ( )
2 vote andreablythe | Feb 10, 2014 |
A fascinating fictional journey to death in the mind of a dying man. The boundaries are fading between past and present, between the dying man and people from his past, and between life and death. I enjoyed the author's use of language. I found myself thinking that it wouldn't be a bad way to go. Having spent time volunteering in a hospice, the connection between the utterances of a dying person and what may be occuring in their inner world seemed so plausible. Very good book! ( )
  hemlokgang | Dec 8, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
"There are few perfect debut American novels. Walter Percy's The Moviegoer and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird come to mind. So does Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. To this list ought to be added Paul Harding's devastating first book, Tinkers, the story of a dying man drifting back in time to his hardscrabble New England childhood, growing up the son of his clock-making father. Harding has written a masterpiece around the truism that all of us, even surrounded by family, die alone."
 
The occasional overwriting, the looping narrative, and the almost defiant lack of plot made this a hard book to sell to publishers. An array of editors at major houses rejected the novel, no doubt afraid it would never sell. It apparently sat for several years in the writer's desk. Then an obscure house, the Bellevue Literary Press, published it to such little fanfare that the New York Times (like most papers) ignored it completely. Then, miracle of miracles, it won the Pulitzer.
added by _eskarina | editThe Guardian, Jay Parini (Sep 25, 2010)
 
Among the many triumphs of this novel, Harding enables a reader to look at the world differently, without the things that normally encumber experience. Tinkers is a considerable achievement.
added by _eskarina | editThe Telegraph, Peter Scott (Aug 18, 2010)
 
Its prose is complex, sometimes convoluted, but at its best suffused with brilliantly realised imagery and a reminder of how rich the written language can still be.
 
"In Paul Harding's stunning first novel, we find what readers, writers and reviewers live for: a new way of seeing, in a story told as a series of ruminative images, like a fanned card deck."
 
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For Meg, Samuel, and Benjamin
First words
George Washington Crosby began to hallucinate eight days before he died.
Quotations
Crosby, how are you going to be one of my twelve?
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
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 repairer’s 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.

Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize and PEN / Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers Award, Tinkers was also named a 2010 American Library Association Notable Book and shortlisted for the American Booksellers Association’s Best Book of the Year Award.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 193413712X, Paperback)

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 repairer’s 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.

Pulitzer Prize, American Library Association Notable Book, PEN / Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers Award

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

“There are few perfect debut American novels. Walter Percy’s The Moviegoer and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird come to mind. So does Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. To this list ought to be added Paul Harding’s devastating first book, Tinkers. . . . Harding has written a masterpiece.” —John Freeman, National Public Radio

“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

“[Tinkers is] a novel that you’ll want to savor. . . . I found reading it to be an incredibly moving experience.” —Nancy Pearl

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:01 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

On his deathbed, surrounded by his family, George Washington Crosby's throughts drift back to his childhood and the father who abandoned him when he was twelve.

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Bellevue Literary Press

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