by Paul Harding
- Date Finished: Feb. 18, 2014
- Genre: Fiction
- Year: 2009
- Project: n/a
- Reading List: Winter 2013-14, Pulitzer Prize Winners
- Grade: A-
- Thoughts upon reading:
I first heard about Tinkers shortly after it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2009. I thought it was cool that one of my favorite bookish people to follow on Twitter and the blogs, @ReadandBreathe, helped bring the book to the attention of the Pulitzer committee and since then, I’ve wanted to check out this slim volume and see what it’s all about.
Tinkers really is a beautiful book. In the book, Harding tells the story of a father and son, or really, he dissects the memory of a father as remembered by a son on his death bed. This father was an epileptic, a traveling salesman in the Maine wilderness, a poet and the man who abandoned his family and son. The son grows into a high school guidance counselor, a husband and father, a fixer of clocks. And yet, as the hours dwindle down until his death, he lets go of reality a little bit at at time until he can rejoin the memory of his father – and perhaps understand a little bit of his mysterious mind.
Tinkers is also a touching story, speaking to love and loss. It’s a story about the poetry of our everyday lives. It really is a lovely read, with several precious, artfully written moments that hit you right in the gut (see the previous post).
And yet, the book is dense and purposefully so. Harding’s prose attempts to reflect the chaos and confusion of our minds, and it works quite often. However, these can be difficult sections to read and if you’re not paying full attention, you might miss something. In fact, if you’re not paying attention, it may just seem like gibberish, which is why I gave Tinkers an A-. I was a little distracted during the first part of the book but, given some unexpected free time, was able to knock out the last 100 or so pages in a day.
And so, I say give Tinkers a try if you’re up to a challenge. It can be difficult and it does require patience but you’ll be rewarded with some of the most beautiful language I’ve encountered in fiction in quite awhile, as well as a story that touches the heart of what makes us human.