Sue's Reviews > Tinkers

Tinkers by Paul Harding
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Oct 10, 13

bookshelves: read-in-2010, favorites, literary-fiction, plan-to-re-read
Read from October 14 to 24, 2010

This was different from most reading experiences I've had because of Harding's use of language. Using simple language in non-simple, metaphorical ways, he describes the last days of an elderly man who is dying at home--the memories of his youth, his father, the natural world he recalls, the clocks he fixed as both vocation and avocation. The clock metaphor runs through the book and the descriptions of nature are poetic. Though this is a slim volume it is dense in what it presents to the reader. Take your time over it; enjoy the glory of the descriptive language.

At times it may seem disjointed by moving between times and characters--father, son, grandfather--but I feel that this is more than compensated for by the overall effect of the descriptions of the natural world and the process of George's gentle dying surrounded by family.


10/10/13--after thinking about this for a while, I've decided to raise the rating to 5. I read this early in my time here at GR and I think that influenced my rating downward, having little for comparison here though plenty of reading experience. I hadn't thought qualitatively in the same way before. This book has stayed with me over the past 3 years and certain images remain, a mark of a very strong, wonderfully written book.
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Comments (showing 1-29 of 29) (29 new)

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Barbara Susan, this is a nice, thoughtful review. I was totally amazed by this lovely book. Who would believe that a book about a dying man could be so uplifting? The prose was so perfect- the timepieces, the environment, and the people, all captured perfectly. I can't wait to see what his second book will be!


message 2: by Sue (last edited Oct 25, 2010 01:53PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue My mother is 102 and very slowly separating from this world. She can't describe how she feels very well but some of the convoluted things she says really seem so like George's confused times.

It will be very interesting to see what Harding writes next. It's a tough act to follow.


Barbara Agreed!

My Mother lived to be almost 90. It really wasn't good for her or us the last couple of years.


message 4: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue My mother actually worked until she was 90 and has been pretty good until about 3or 4 years ago. She has age related dementia but still shows the capacity for happiness and knows her children even if not always our names. My hope is a peaceful passing. I guess that is what we all would wish.


Barbara My mother also had the same thing, but she did not know any of us. It is such a sad way to end one's life.


message 6: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue It is. I hope that my mother will keep some link to us til the end but of course, the longer she lives, the less likely that is. We are lucky that she is at home with care. Otherwise I think the connection would probably be gone.


message 7: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue I've been thinking again about this book as the review received a "like" today (thanks Kenneth P) and realize if I were to read it now I would very likely have given it a 5 rating. Not sure whether to change the rating or read it again before doing so. There are moments I still recall, though they are difficult to describe--just that they have stayed with me.


Teresa I've felt that way at times about certain books. Sometimes I do change the rating, sometimes not; who knows why. :)


message 9: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue I read this only a few months after I started reviewing books and didn't have much to compare. I'm thinking I likely will raise the rating ---- and read it again.


Teresa Yes, usually my changes came with books I added here early.

I have a request in to read Enon as soon as it gets to our library.


message 11: by Tajma (new) - added it

Tajma Teresa wrote: "Yes, usually my changes came with books I added here early.

I have a request in to read Enon as soon as it gets to our library."


My copy just came into the library. I pick it up tomorrow. What a shame Tinkers is still unread on my bookshelf.


Teresa Tajma wrote: "My copy just came into the library. I pick it up tomorrow."

My library's been rather slow in getting some of the new titles. I'm #1 in the queue -- and there's only 1 person after me!


message 13: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue I confess I bought it! When I was at the bookstore in town last time I went to the doctor Harding was going to be coming for a reading so I bought a copy and left it to be signed. An early birthday gift to myself. I did sell a few books that day so I wasn't totally bad :)


message 14: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Teresa wrote: "Tajma wrote: "My copy just came into the library. I pick it up tomorrow."

My library's been rather slow in getting some of the new titles. I'm #1 in the queue -- and there's only 1 person after me!"


I wonder if it's funding or if they just go for the blockbusters first.


Fionnuala Sue wrote: "I read this only a few months after I started reviewing books and didn't have much to compare. I'm thinking I likely will raise the rating ---- and read it again."

Sue, I just saw your review today and although, as you say, you reviewed it while still kind of a novice, I think you captured the central meaning of this book very succinctly and eloquently. Harding writes very well - like you, I still remember scenes from this book vividly - and I have noticed in my own reading and reviewing that the better the writing, the more it inspires my own review.


message 16: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Fionnuala wrote: "Sue wrote: "I read this only a few months after I started reviewing books and didn't have much to compare. I'm thinking I likely will raise the rating ---- and read it again."

Sue, I just saw your..."


Thanks Fionnuala. I think you are right. The writing must leave a residue of inspiration behind. What a wonderful thought.


message 17: by Tajma (new) - added it

Tajma Sue wrote: "Teresa wrote: "Tajma wrote: "My copy just came into the library. I pick it up tomorrow."

My library's been rather slow in getting some of the new titles. I'm #1 in the queue -- and there's only 1 ..."


I think all libraries go for the blockbusters first. I know that in my library there are always multiple copies of mass market fiction and never more than one copy of even the best selling literary fiction.


message 18: by Tajma (new) - added it

Tajma Sue wrote: "I confess I bought it! When I was at the bookstore in town last time I went to the doctor Harding was going to be coming for a reading so I bought a copy and left it to be signed. An early birthday..."

When is your birthday, Sue? Mine is the 23rd. I'm going to treat myself to a hardcover that day, regardless of price! LOL


message 19: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Mine was September 30th. And I think I bought the book a couple of weeks before. Just went to the doctor again yesterday and picked it up (saved the mailing fee.) We're almost under the same sign, Tajma!


Teresa Tajma wrote: "I think all libraries go for the blockbusters first. I know that in my library there are always multiple copies of mass market fiction and never more than one copy of even the best selling literary fiction."

That's true, but I think there's a funding issue at my library as well. I've noticed that if I put in a request for a new, more obscure book for them to purchase, they will, but I wonder if they would if I hadn't asked.

I didn't ask for "Enon" and I see that there will be 8 available, spread out throughout the branches, though 2 copies for the main library.

Happy belated birthday, Sue, and happy early birthday, Tajma!


Michael Bravo, Sue, for showing how a book can percolate in the mind over time. Am sure at the extreme end of things are classicists who say you should wait 50 years to truly weigh a books merits.

Hope you get a chance at Enon, which I enjoyed, with a character a generation removed from the clock fixer of Tinkers.


message 22: by Tajma (new) - added it

Tajma Sue wrote: "Mine was September 30th. And I think I bought the book a couple of weeks before. Just went to the doctor again yesterday and picked it up (saved the mailing fee.) We're almost under the same sign, ..."

No wonder we get along so well!

Thanks for the pre-birthday wishes, Teresa!


message 23: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Michael wrote: "Bravo, Sue, for showing how a book can percolate in the mind over time. Am sure at the extreme end of things are classicists who say you should wait 50 years to truly weigh a books merits.

Hope y..."


Thanks Michael...but a fifty year wait would mean 110 and by then (if I happened to be alive...OMG what a thought) I'm sure the word Tinkers wouldn't mean anything to me unless I thought it had something to do with the bathroom! :)

I will definitely be reading Enon. It's sogned by Harding and on my shelf. I think I'll wait til I finish a couple of group reads Im involved in. So perhaps a good Christmas/New Year's read.


message 24: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Teresa wrote: "Tajma wrote: "I think all libraries go for the blockbusters first. I know that in my library there are always multiple copies of mass market fiction and never more than one copy of even the best se..."

Thanks Teresa and I'm glad you'll be able to get your hands on Enon soon.


message 25: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Tajma wrote: "Sue wrote: "Mine was September 30th. And I think I bought the book a couple of weeks before. Just went to the doctor again yesterday and picked it up (saved the mailing fee.) We're almost under the..."

Yes! I detect a compatibility thing going on here!


message 26: by Margitte (new)

Margitte A compassionate and great review, Sue. A very special book indeed.


message 27: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Thanks Margitte. I'm looking forward to Enon.


message 28: by Tajma (new) - added it

Tajma Sue wrote: "Thanks Margitte. I'm looking forward to Enon."

You will love it, Sue.


message 29: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Oh...you've already read it, Tajma! I think I'll read it after my group reads are finished, so probably December.


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