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Tinkers by Paul Harding
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Tinkers (edition 2009)

by Paul Harding

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,1471483,035 (3.44)277
Member:sturlington
Title:Tinkers
Authors:Paul Harding
Info:Bellevue Literary Press (2009), trade paperback
Collections:Read but unowned, Marty's books
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Reminiscing in old age, Identity in old age, Dementia, Fiction, Novelette, 2011

Work details

Tinkers by Paul Harding

  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 277 mentions

English (142)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (148)
Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
Tinkers by Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding is a methodical, thoughtful novel about an old man dying, a look back at the story of his life and his father's life. He was a watch repairman, and his father was an itinerant salesman traveling with a donkey and wooden cart into distant backwoods country. The writing was at times quite poetic, however overall I found it to be a bit dry. I just couldn't get into the story. It was deeply melancholy and subtle but didn't have the linguistic energy I prefer in my fiction. Well written but not my cup of tea. ( )
  David_David_Katzman | Jul 9, 2014 |
Can't figure out how anyone understands this little novel ( )
  saradiann | Jun 29, 2014 |
The clean, focused language reminds me of Jewett's writing in The Country of the Pointed Firs. The words in both are beautiful, sharp, clear and poetic. Harding's stunning imagery takes your breath away. He makes you see past the physical, into the endlessness of substance and things, and dig upward into the spiritual, into truth, and the endlessness of space and time.

Harding's description of people, capturing their feelings, thoughts, desires as well as creating the tense mood surprises because of just how few words he uses.

He is true word master. Very well done! ( )
  Bookish59 | Jun 21, 2014 |
A friend recommended Tinkers and gave me an extra copy she had received from a colleague (who mailed copies of the book to everyone on his holiday gift list). Given these testimonials, and the fact that it won the Pulitzer, I thought I would love everything about this book. I really enjoyed Tinkers - it is one of the most unusual and beautiful books I have read. I read it twice (something I rarely do), and could read it again, but I don't think it is for everyone.
What I liked:
1) Harding's prose is extremely well-crafted. I read many passages aloud because seeing the words on the page just didn't do them justice. Sometimes the wordplay reminded me of Nabokov.
2) I loved the characters and the complexity of their relationships. I'm from Maine, and my father was similar to George (including his clock repair hobby and the way he died in the living room), so much of Harding's character descriptions rang true to me. The characters are both stark and rich, and bear some similarities to those in Olive Kitteridge and The Shipping News (two of my favorite books).
3) I enjoyed the shifts in voice and story line throughout the book. They provided interesting little side trips on the way to the ultimate destination.
4) The descriptions of the hallucinations and epileptic seizures were excellent.

What I didn't like:
1) I didn't enjoy reading the "how to" excerpts (e.g., clock repair and making a bird nests) because no matter how well written they might have been, I just don't like to read detailed instructions.
2) I didn't see the value of the borealis sections. ( )
  EllenReads | Apr 26, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 142 (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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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
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Original language

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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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