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Tinkers [Paperback]

Paul Harding
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 Jan 2011

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 seven 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.

Heartbreaking and life affirming, TINKERS is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Windmill Books (6 Jan 2011)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 0099538040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099538042
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 196,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Wonderful, lyrical . . . Triumphant . . . A beautiful, moving and elegiac lament on the human condition . . . Hypnotic." (The Times)

"Brilliantly realised . . . a reminder of how rich the written language can still be" (Independent)

"Prepare to be seduced... Beguiles from the opening sentence ...This little novel is a wonder" (Irish Times)

"An expert piece of historical and psychological archaeology, which unpicks the intricacies of ordinary life while also asking the terrifying, unanswerable, yet endlessly fascinating questions that haunt us all" (Observer)

"A dense, elegiac and richly imagined piece of remembering...Life-affirming and visceral in its detail." (Daily Mail)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What do I know?... 5 Jan 2011
By Adam S
Before I begin this review, I'd like to acknowledge that I am almost certainly wrong. A book that has won so many plaudits, including the Pulitzer Prize, must be a great book. Readers more intelligent than me will probably consider me a philistine or a fool, most likely both. However, my mixed reaction to reading Tinkers is at odds with the universal praise that has been heaped on this short novel.

Let's start with the overwhelming positive - there are many parts of the book for which the prose is beautiful, really beautiful, with a texture that few writers can match. From the lightness of touch in Howard's daily appreciation of nature to the visceral description of the epileptic fit on Christmas day; for these passages alone it is worth reading the book.

My main gripe with this book is that, in places, it feels incredibly `loose'. For every beautiful passage there is another which only confuses. In these it feels as if the book has been written with the primary aim of being poetic, rather than communicating a message to the reader. Whilst not in itself the worst of literary crimes, for a book to be truly great it should do both, preferably achieving the latter with skilful use of the former. Too often it feels like a collection of well written exercises, without sufficient glue to hold them together as a single novel. At its worst it felt unstructured and, well, a bit messy. Perhaps I'm a bit dim, but most of the themes didn't work for me, and I can't help feel that a couple of steps away from poetry and towards fiction would make the book more complete without diminishing any of the beauty.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
To pass the time waiting at yet another airport gate, I took the book TINKERS by Paul Harding with me. His debut novel, it was published in January 2009 and has 192 pages, a small book indeed, but a forceful, spellbinding and impressive one, a book leading to contemplation and soul-searching. The story tells about a tinker, Howard, a man mending broken pots and pans, a man standing for a vanished lifestyle, when time appeared to run at a slower pace and yet the days were full.
Weaving back and forth from the past to the present, it is also the story about another man, the late tinker's son George, who is slowly dying, in the house he built and amidst his family and all his lovingly repaired antique clocks, his entire life achievements if you will. The book deals with the relationship between a father and a son, and although Harding writes in great prose about the subject of the last days of life and impending death, it is truly a comforting book, somehow giving the reader solace by knowing what a rich and fulfilled life the main characters enjoyed. A moving and spiritual story.
13 April 2010. With his book TINKERS Paul Harding won the Pulitzer Price for Fiction today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book of recent years 26 Mar 2012
By BrynG
For me, the way a story is written is more important than the main storyline - in much the same way as Van Gogh's paintings of (just) sunflowers can hold the attention. I also love stories that are about what is going on inside a 'normal' person rather than their immediate actions.
I have read this book a couple of times (it is less than 200 pages) and I certainly can't say I understand it all, but it is a book to read slowly and savour. I shall certainly be reading it again (and I hardly ever repeat read a book, which is probably a shame and costly!).
There are beautiful descriptions of sky reflecting on the surface of a pond, and many others. I found all the characters had very real emotional lives, particularly George's mother who slaved out of duty rather than love. The descriptions of declining health are also very moving, though not depressing.
I think this book is well worth the effort, and is my favourite of at least the last 5 years.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Debut 11 April 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Given that Tinkers by Paul Harding runs only for 191 pages, it is a hugely ambitious novel and a tour de force that Harding broadly succeeds in what appears to be his aim. Tinkers is one of those novels that does not wear its heart on its sleeve. Harding refrains from telling us rather he shows us. This makes the novel an example of where according to Reader Theory a "convergence of text and reader" is required in order to bring the "literary work into existence". In other words, this is a novel that certainly requires the reader to bring his or her experience to bear on it in order to make sense of it.

The novel opens on the death bed scene of the main character, George Washington Crosby, whom we are told is in a state of hallucination "eight days before he died". George is surrounded by his family and a few people coming to his bedside to bid farewell. The story then flashes back in time to look at the work and life of George's father, Howard Aaron Crosby, (he is the Tinker in the family) the relationship between father and son, family life in general, and George's own work as a clock repairer. Howard also recalls his father's life and times as a Methodist minister. The story is meant to be seen from the perspective of the hallucinating mind of George. This ingeniously allows Harding to give the narrative a disruptive and rambling effect. However, this technique simply amounts to Howard switching the narration from third to first person and this is further complicated by Howard's day dreaming, readings by one of Howard's grandsons, Charlie, from a book found in the attic, and George's own direct reminiscing on his death bed. The setting of the novel is the state of Maine and the US north eastern seaboard.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but surprised that it won a Pulitzer
Tinkers is a flowing, imaginative book which engages the reader. It is written in a forthright way with a logical and legible plot. Read more
Published 15 months ago by sparky72
1.0 out of 5 stars 1/10
I found this book confusing, dull and boring. If I want a book of obscure poetry then I will go out and buy one,
this time I thought I was buying a novel. Read more
Published 20 months ago by MissAnnThrop
5.0 out of 5 stars A small wonder
This book is a small marvel - a impressionistic trinket of a book, a gloriously written piece of art. Read more
Published 22 months ago by RachelWalker
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
What a total let down at the end, more mind-boggling nonsense from Pulitzer. Yet another Audrey Niffenegger's - Time Travellers Wife rubbish!
Published on 1 July 2012 by Simon
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear, another lemon
Tinkers is at once a promising first novel and simultaneously a disjointed and unfulfilling read.

Old man dying in bed, very little humour, I feel it's all been done... Read more
Published on 19 Jan 2012 by a nice guy who likes reading
2.0 out of 5 stars Another Prize-Winner Than Did Nothng For Me
Ranganathan's third law of librarianship coined the phrase "every book its reader," which is something I had to keep reminding myself as I read this slender Pulitzer-winning novel. Read more
Published on 9 Aug 2011 by A. Ross
3.0 out of 5 stars Rythmic style
The lyrical style of this book is excellent and as an experiment in the beauty and power of words it works. Read more
Published on 13 July 2011 by D. J. Andrews
3.0 out of 5 stars Stylish but laboured metaphors and fails to come together
Telling the story of an old man's dying memories including the hard life of his own father, a tinker in New England, "Tinkers" is never going to be a barrel of laughs. Read more
Published on 9 July 2011 by Ripple
3.0 out of 5 stars tinkers
I enjoyed this book but it is definately not a laugh a minute. The plot is a little confusing in places so choose a time when you can concentrate. Read more
Published on 31 May 2011 by sarah adams
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex and Literary
"Tinkers" is a short novel that won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, the first debut novel coming from a small publishing company to do so in over a quarter of a century. Read more
Published on 4 April 2011 by Dr. Bojan Tunguz
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