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Tinkers Paperback – 21 Feb 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press (21 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193413712X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934137123
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.2 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,324,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Accolades for "Tinkers" Pulitzer Prize for Fiction WinnerPEN / Robert W. Bingham Prize WinnerAmerican Library Association Notable Book"New York Times" Bestseller Also . . . an American Booksellers Association Indie Choice Honor Award recipient, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist selection, "Los Angeles Times" Art Seidenbaum First Fiction Award Finalist, and Center For Fiction Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize Finalist Named one of the best books of the year by the "New Yorker, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, Irish Times, Granta, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, " Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and National Public Radio Praise for "Tinkers" A powerful celebration of life in which a New England father and son, through suffering and joy, transcend their imprisoning lives and offer new ways of perceiving the world and mortality. Pulitzer Prize citation An exquisite novel, at once fresh and hauntingly familiar, simple and profound, told with a voice so keen and beautiful as to leave the reader in a state of excitement produced only by literature, and the best literature at that. PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Prize citation In this lyrical novel, the life of a dying man is examined through the smallest moments of time and memory. American Library Association Notable Book citation An exquisitely written novel that captures the mysteries of relationships, memories and time passing in language that is both spare and lyrical. It is a true gem that sparkles with thoughtfulness, intelligence and life. International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist nominee citation (from the New Hampshire State Library) There are few perfect debut American novels. . . . To this list ought to be added Paul Harding s devastating first book, "Tinkers." . . . Harding has written a masterpiece. NPR Best Debut Fiction of the Year A complex reflection on memory, consciousness, and the meaning of life. "Diane Rehm Show" Readers Review Book Club A novel that you ll want to savor. . . . I found reading it to be an incredibly moving experience. . . . This book begs to be read aloud. Nancy Pearl, KUOW.org This compact, adamantine debut dips in and out of the consciousness of a New England patriarch . . . In Harding s skillful evocation, Crosby s life, seen from its final moments, becomes a mosaic of memories. "New Yorker" Alive with gorgeous sentences. "Elle" A perfect read for reflection and short enough to finish in an afternoon. "First for Women" [An] astonishing novel. "Los Angeles Times" In Paul Harding s stunning first novel, we find what readers, writers and reviewers live for. "San Francisco Chronicle" Tinkers is a poignant exploration of where we may journey when the clock has barely a tick or two left and we really can t go anywhere at all. "Boston Globe" The life and death questions Paul Harding raises in "Tinkers, " as well as the richness of his writing, keep a reader coming back to it. . . . Like Faulkner, he never shies away from describing what seems impossible to put into words. "Dallas Morning News" Vivid and original . . . "Tinkers" [is] going to be around for a long, long time. Milwaukee "Journal Sentinel" This beautiful novel is sui generis; the most insignificant events . . . radiate fire and light. Minneapolis "Star Tribune" Few contemporary writers have [Harding s] gift for uniting language and nature through a powerful imagination. "Tinkers" is a father-son story told with skill, depth and beauty. "Concord Monitor" Stunning . . . Writing in an economical style and transcendental spirit reminiscent of his friend and mentor, the award-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson, Harding, who apprenticed with his horologist grandfather, uses the clock as a metaphor for the cosmos and its deeper intricacies and mysteries. Louisville "Courier-Journal" This Cinderella winner of the Pulitzer Prize is alive with miraculous sentences. Cleveland "Plain Dealer" Tantalizing . . . "Tinkers" takes an uncompromising look at the complex emotional geometry that exists between parents and children. "London Review of Books" Harding is a first-rate writer, and his fascination with what makes his characters tick recommends him as a philosopher, as well. "Time Out Chicago" This is a book so meticulously assembled that vocabulary choices like craquelure and scrieved far from seeming pretentiousserve as reminders of how precise and powerful a tool good English can be. "Christian Science Monitor" A novel with an old-fashioned meditative quality so perfectly done that it is refreshing to read in a world filled with noises and false excitements. . . . It brings the reader to a closer understanding of his own life than he could have imagined before taking the journey. Yiyun Li, Granta.com Best Books of the Year Unique, captivating, and a measure more magical than most other contemporary novels. "Guernica: A Magazine of Arts and Politics" A luminous novel . . . that is not about death but instead an investigation into what life is all about. . . . The precipice is what Harding is so concentrated on, as though he were holding a magnifying glass up under bright sunlight and setting fire to the page. "Quarterly Conversation" Quiet, moving, breathtakingly crafted. "Library Journal" Best Books of the Year Writing with breathtaking lyricism and tenderness, Harding has created a rare and beautiful novel of spiritual inheritance and acute psychological and metaphysical suspense. "Booklist" (starred review) Outstanding . . . 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) Filled with lovely Whitmanesque descriptions of the natural world, this slim novel gives shape to the extraordinary variety in the thoughts of otherwise ordinary men. "Kirkus Reviews" 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. "Rumpus" Paul Harding s "Tinkers" is not just a novelthough 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" "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 "Home, Gilead, " and "Housekeeping" A work of great power and originality. There is a striking freedom of style here, which allows the author to move without any sense of strain or loss of balance from the visionary and ecstatic to the exquisitely precise. The novel is compelling to read, sometimes horrific, and deeply 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""

Book Description

WINNER OF THE 2010 PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Adam S on 5 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Herman Norford on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BrynG on 26 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is a small marvel - a impressionistic trinket of a book, a gloriously written piece of art. I can't fathom claims that it has no story - certainly, the story isn't linear, is more episodic, and the episodes do not necessarily link, but there is a LOT of event stuffed into this small book: love, death, illness, abandonment, awe of nature, poverty, history, madness, along with exposition on the mechanics of clocks. Paul Harding builds up his colours gradually; characters, lives, events, arcs of existence, are teased out beautifully over 190 all too brief pages (wouldn't work much shorter or much longer). I also don't buy the argument that the methaphor of clocks is heavy handed - it's not supposed to be subtle? It's an outright obsession! Which sort of nullifies any claim that it's overbearing. The novel is *obsessed* with clocks and time and mechanics. Harding isn't trying to hide it. It's a book about lived lives petering out, and clocks are a fine metaphor.

The writing is gorgeous. It's moving, poetic, euphoric about it's subject (death, life, nature), and elegaic at the same time. It's not a book for people who must have a beginning middle and end, but it's a little work of art and so I would recommend it to everyone else.
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