5 x 7 | 192 pp
|Trim Size||5 x 7 in|
Trade Cloth, Ebook, Trade Paper
“Walter Percy’s The Moviegoer and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird come to mind. So does Marilynne Robinson’sHousekeeping. 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.”
John Freeman, NPR's The Best Debut Fiction of 2009
“Slim but powerful, Tinkers puts a new spin on the father-son relationship and makes Harding an author to watch.”
“Tinkers does not have a plot in the traditional sense. Instead, Harding winds the gears and cogs of memories and experiences and lets them turn for the reader’s consideration. The story comes in layers and images, the recollections of a dying man who, like Harding, is in no hurry to get where he’s going. This excellent debut proves Harding to be a writer of exceptional poise, possessing clear-eyed skill and, like his characters, a steady hand for the finest of details.”
The Rumpus.net( link)
“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.”
San Francisco Chronicle( link)
“The most memorable parts of Harding’s novel may be his depiction of a nineteenth-century landscape complete with mule-drawn carts and ‘frozen wood so brittle that it rang when you split it.’ In Harding’s skillful evocation, Crosby’s life, seen from its final moments, becomes a mosaic of memories, ‘showing him a different self every time he tried to make an assessment.’”
The New Yorker( link)
“Harding is a first-rate writer, and his fascination with what makes his characters tick recommends him as a philosopher, as well. At its mahogany outer shell, Tinkers is a novel about the way families lay down unimpeachable tracks on future generations. But in its inner chamber, it’s about the way the mind fetishizes the smallest acts—the gears that keep life trued—even as our bodies enter a final winter.”
Time Out Chicago( link)
“Every so often (and this must happen to you too) a writer describes something so well — snow, oranges, dirt — that you can smell it or feel it or sense it in the room. The writing does what all those other art forms do — evoke the essence of the thing. In this astonishing novel, Paul Harding creates a New England childhood, beginning with the landscape. And he does this, miracle of miracles, through the mind of another human being — not himself, someone else.”
Los Angeles Times( link)
“Writing with breathtaking lyricism and tenderness, Harding has created a rare and beautiful novel of spiritual inheritance and acute psychological and metaphysical suspense.”
“[An] outstanding debut…. The real star is Harding’s language, which dazzles whether he’s describing the workings of clocks, sensory images of nature, the many engaging side characters who populate the book, or even a short passage on how to build a bird nest. This is an especially gorgeous example of novelistic craftsmanship.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)( link)
“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 Gilead and Home
“Tinkers is a remarkable piece of work… I particularly admire the balancing act between the visionary and ecstatic and the exquisitely precise. [It is] fascinating—and sometimes horrific—to read, and is cumulatively moving because it is woven together into the single quilt of our humanity.”
Barry Unsworth, Booker Prize-winning author of The Ruby in Her Navel
“Paul Harding’s Tinkers is not just a novel—though it is a brilliant novel. It’s an instruction manual on how to look at nearly everything. Harding takes the back off to show you the miraculous ticking of the natural world, the world of clocks, generations of family, an epileptic brain, the human soul. In astounding language sometimes seemingly struck by lightning, sometimes as tight and complicated as clockwork, Harding shows how enormous fiction can be, and how economical. Read this book and marvel.”
Elizabeth McCracken, author of Niagara Falls All Over Again
An old man lies dying. Confined to bed in his living room, he sees the walls around him begin to collapse, the windows come loose from their sashes, and the ceiling plaster fall off in great chunks, showering him with a lifetime of debris: newspaper clippings, old photographs, wool jackets, rusty tools, and the mangled brass works of antique clocks.
Soon, the clouds from the sky above plummet down on top of him, followed by the stars, till the black night covers him like a shroud. He is hallucinating, in death throes from cancer and kidney failure. A methodical repairer of clocks, he is now finally released from the usual constraints of time and memory to rejoin his father, an epileptic, itinerant peddler, whom he had lost 7 decades before. In his return to the wonder and pain of his impoverished childhood in the backwoods of Maine, he recovers a natural world that is at once indifferent to man and inseparable from him, menacing and awe inspiring.
Tinkers is about the legacy of consciousness and the porousness of identity from one generation to the next. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, it is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.
Pulitzer Prize Winner
PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship Winner
A finalist for the LA Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Indies Choice Award for Book of the Year—Adult Debut, and The Center for Fiction First Novel Award.
Tinkers has been recognized as one of the best debut fiction books on the lists of The New Yorker, National Public Radio, San Francisco Chronicle, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Amazon.com!
Excerpt from Tinkers
Nearly seventy years before George died, his father, Howard Aaron Crosby, drove a wagon for his living. It was a wooden wagon. It was a chest of drawers mounted on two axles and wooden spoked wheels. There were dozens of drawers, each fitted with a recessed brass ring, pulled open with a hooked forefinger, that contained brushes and wood oil, tooth powder and nylon stockings, shaving soap and straight-edge razors. There were drawers with shoe shine and boot strings, broom handles and mop heads. There was a secret drawer where he kept four bottles of gin. Mostly, back roads were his route, dirt tracks that ran into the deep woods to hidden clearings where a log cabin sat among sawdust and tree stumps and a woman in a plain dress and hair pulled back so tight that she looked as if she were smiling(which she was not) stood in a crooked doorway with a cocked squirrel gun. Oh, it's you, Howard. Well, I guess I need one of your tin buckets. In the summer, he sniffed heather and sang someone's rocking my dreamboat and watched the monarch butterflies (butter fires, flutter flames; he imagined himself somewhat of a poet) up from Mexico. Spring and fall were his most prosperous times, fall because the backwoods people stocked up for the winter (he piled goods from the cart onto blazing maple leaves), spring because they had been out of supplies often for weeks before the roads were passable for his first rounds. Then they came to the wagon like sleepwalkers: bright-eyed and ravenous. ometimes he came out of the woods with orders for coffins—a child, a wife wrapped up in burlap and stiff in the woodshed.
He tinkered. Tin pots, wrought iron. Solder melted and cupped in a clay dam. Quicksilver patchwork. Occasionally, a pot hammered back flat, the tinkle of tin sibilant, tiny beneath the lid of the boreal forest. Tinkerbird, coppersmith, but mostly a brush and mop drummer.
The stubbornness of some of the country women with whom Howard came into contact on his daily rounds cultivated in him, he believed, or would have believed, had he ever consciously thought about the matter, an unshakable, reasoning patience. When the soap company discontinued its old detergent for a new formula and changed the design on the box the soap came in, Howard had to endure debates he would have quickly conceded, were his adversaries not paying customers.
Where's the soap?
This is the soap.
The box is different.
Yes, they changed it.
What was wrong with the old box?
Why'd they change it?
Because the soap is better.
The soap is different?
Nothing wrong with the old soap.
Of course not, but this is better.
Nothing wrong with the old soap. How can it be better?
Well, it cleans better.
Cleaned fine before.
This cleans better — and faster.
Well, I'll just take a box of the normal soap.
This is the normal soap now.
I can't get my normal soap?
This is the normal soap; I guarantee it.
Well, I don't like to try a new soap.
It's not new.
Just as you say, Mr. Crosby. Just as you say.
Well, ma'am, I need another penny.
Another penny? For what?
The soap is a penny more, now that it's better.
I have to pay a penny more for different soap in a blue box? I'll just take a box of my normal soap.