Cynthia's Reviews > Tinkers

Tinkers by Paul Harding
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's review
Jan 03, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: re-reads-2009
Recommended to Cynthia by: book review
Recommended for: Toni Morrison fans

A door to door sales man named Howard remembers his father's life and his descent into mental illness. After his father's death Howard begins to have epileptic fits which leads his wife to attempt to institutionalize him. He gets wind of her plan and leaves her and their four children, marries again and starts a new life. Howard's son, George who himself tried to run away on the day his father disappeared lies dying in his living room with his family around him, remembering his father and his own life and his love for and relationship with his dad. I know this sounds like a book where not much happens and it is mostly a 'thought' book but Harding's use of language is very lush and satisfying. Toni Morrison fans will love this book. It's a book you'll want to re-read and re-read.

As you can see from my burgeoning quotes section this book did not disappoint on my recent re-read. Harding has a knack for expressing the ineffable. I'm looking forward to hearing other's thoughts concerning this book on our yahoo 21st century lit list.
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Quotes Cynthia Liked

Paul Harding
“I breathed the book before I saw it; tasted the book before I read it.”
Paul Harding, Tinkers

Paul Harding
“...I will be no more than a tint of some obscure color, and to their great grandchildren nothing they ever know about, and so what army of strangers and ghosts has shaped and coloured me until back to Adam, until back to when ribs were blown from molten sand into the glass bits that took up the light of this world....”
Paul Harding, Tinkers

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Cynthia YAY! Paul won the Pulitzer for his first novel. Congratulations Paul!!!!!!!!!

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "YAY! Paul won the Pulitzer for his first novel. Congratulations Paul!!!!!!!!!"

I should've requested it from the library already!

message 3: by Cynthia (last edited Apr 13, 2010 07:07AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cynthia He went from ~25,000 in sales on amazon to #14 currently! He even sat in on our group when we read it on 21st century lit. Graciouas guy.

message 4: by Maria (new)

Maria Why Toni Morrison fans? As one, I'm curious.

message 5: by Barbara (last edited Apr 15, 2010 05:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barbara NPR interviewed this author. Apparently he had to go to this small publishing house to get this book published. He said that they did not call him to tell him that he won the Pulitzer. He had gone on line to check who had won and saw his name!

Nice review, Cynthia!

Cynthia Maria wrote: "Why Toni Morrison fans? As one, I'm curious."

Maria I'll try and express this.....they're both nonlinear, they paint with words, their words seem to evoke more than each word would otherwise mean on its own. Mostly, for me, i'm feeling all kinds of emotions and I'm often not sure why I'm feeling things. Also, back to painting with words, i'm seeing incredible pictures in my mind which leads to textural, aural senses coming awake. I'm not sure how else to 'splain it Lucy.

Cynthia Barbara wrote: "NPR interviewed this author. Apparently he had to go to this small publishing house to get this book published. He said that they did not call him to tell him that he won the Pulitzer. He had gone ..."

I hadn't heard that Barbara! That's mean. In the article I read he said his publisher called him and they were both just screaming for joy at the top of their lungs for a period. lol

Barbara Well, that could be true too!

Cynthia Barbara wrote: "Well, that could be true too!"

B they could be be correct accounts. One or the other heard hit from somewhere and called one another and freaked.

message 10: by Barbara (last edited Apr 16, 2010 11:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barbara There was an impressive editorial in today's Boston Globe. They tell how Harding could not find anyone to publish his book. He kept passing it around until he found this small publisher who agreed to do it. Several people urged that the book be entered for the Pulitzer Prize and to waive the $50 submission fee. The Globe went on to state, "Harding's rich prose drove some people to weep and many others to proselytize.'s worth remembering that some novels are still good enough to sell themselves."

Richard It occurs to me that this is one of those great books of death. By that I mean such as "The Death of Ivan Illyich', 'Everyman', 'Patrimony'. Those books that manage to narrate the process of dying and in doing so, help us to come to terms with what we all must face.

That's certainly how I feel about it at the moment. An amazing achievement for a debut novel.

Cynthia Of course you had to mention a Dostoevsky I havne't yet read. It's funny how death is the overt focus yet it leads to talking about so much life. He's at the center of his family, literally in the center of the LIVING room, yet he's unaware of them. He's reliving the men who came before him and how they impacted his life.

Richard I must admit to preferring the Tolstoy version myself, Cynthia :-)

But I know what you mean, very true. I'll be interested to see how this gets rated over time. It's not even been acknowledged over here, except for the fact that it's won the award.

I must admit to immense admiration for the two Roth titles above. When my father-in-law died a couple of years back, I re-read both of them and, as well as helping me get through that period of time, I also found them a great inspiration for life, quite the opposite of what I expected.

Barbara I found your review of,Tinkersand I was delighted to see that it had made a similar impact on you! I rarely reread, or buy books, but I am going to purchase this one and check it out again. It has so much to absorb!

Cynthia I bought the audio book too. The language is so lush I think it would be fun to hear it spoken.

Barbara With the right speaker!

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