Tick-tocking away the time – “Tinkers” by Paul Harding

You know how sometimes you watch a figure-skater perform, and though they’re technically brilliant, something about their routine leaves you a little cold?

That’s kind of how I felt while reading “Tinkers” by Paul Harding.

Hear me out.

This sad novella explores the line between memory and reality, life and death.  As the hours of George’s life wind down, so do his memories, thoughts, and the legion of clocks in the house, which he has spent most of his life tweaking and repairing.  Family members and friends weave in and out of both his dreams and his reality as he lies in bed, readying to die.  He recalls his father’s career as a salesman, and the frightening seizures his father suffered from all his life.  It’s really a story about making peace with yourself and those in your life before the clock runs out.

Paul Harding has a gift for words, and there are more than a few passages in the book I highlighted while reading.  Harding writes in beautifully minuscule detail of the kind of seemingly minor events that make up a life.  If you never grow to care deeply about George or any of the other lesser-developed characters, you’ll at least be blown away by the technique of this writer’s craft.   It’s a sad, simple little book told with exquisite combinations of words.

“Tinkers” won the 2010 Pulitzer for fiction, and I can’t argue with that award.  Not a bit.  Harding is as good as writers come.  I would have liked more emotional involvement to go with this parade of word-brilliance, but hey.. A minor squabble, indeed.


About JamieP

Books. Adventures. Chicago. Married. Mommy. Cat.

Posted on January 25, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This book really got me and I was in tears through a lot of it. I think the forays into the past reminded me of Chris’s side of the family and their surroundings/situations. The conciseness of the language and storytelling were impressive. I also recall I read this right after a Cormac McCarthy story so I was in a certain “removed yet emotional” place …

    Good books, Ms. Jamie. Again, do you have these books or do you check them out from the library? I’d love to borrow a couple of ’em. =)

    • Hey Ms. Z! Most of these books I have copies of – Let me know which you want to borrow and we can do a swap. Perhaps said swap could involve delicious nosh and drinks as well. 🙂

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