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Tinkers | [Paul Harding]

Tinkers

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.
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2010

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.

Tinkers is about the legacy of consciousness and the porousness of identity from one generation the next. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, it is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.

©2009 Paul Harding; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"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)

"This compact, adamantine debut dips in and out of the consciousness of a New England patriarch named George Washington Crosby as he lies dying on a hospital bed in his living room.... 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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.1 (245 )
5 star
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3.3 (110 )
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Story
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Performance
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  •  
    Pamela Laguna Beach, CA, USA 07-16-10
    Pamela Laguna Beach, CA, USA 07-16-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Hated It!"

    Well written, listening to it was confusing. Most of my book club didn't like it either. Pulitzer or not...not my kind of book!

    3 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chrissie Brussels, Belgium 01-21-14
    Chrissie Brussels, Belgium 01-21-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Rambling and unengaging"

    Oh my, I have heard so much praise for this book and this author. Well, it didn't work for me - not at all! First of all I tend to like Looooooong stories and this is short. Secondly, the writing is all over the place, one minute poetical and then down to earth, matter of fact and simplistic. Sometimes sentences were numbered! Why? I would listen to a line and think, "What IS the author trying to say with that sentence?! What is his message?" I had no idea. Some of his descriptions of light, how it can sparkle and refract on an early morning walk in the countryside, these passages enticed me, but they were all too few.

    When the author focuses on relationship and interactions between people, if I was moved at all, I found his views depressing. The author chooses to depict horrible moments of strife, of failure, of inadequacies. Life is not made up of just those. The book is about father (priest), son (tinker) and grandson. The lives and the sons' interactions with their parents are depicted, not in a straightforward manner but delivered as memories and glimpses of past events, as personal reveries, in a rambling fashion without cohesion or engagement. The book is told as the grandson lies dying, surrounded by his family. But this meeting is just plain icky; it focuses solely upon illness and how decrepit we all become. A grandson has to shave his grandfather and it is not done with relish, not with love or kindness, not with the thought of helping a dear one about to pass away. Ugh, I didn't like this book at all. The book is depressing, inconsistent in writing style and the messages imparted are unclear.

    I had a hard time enjoying the narration by Christian Rummel, given the content of the story and how it was written.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liz Madera, CA United States 08-21-12
    Liz Madera, CA United States 08-21-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beautiful"

    The language in this book is truly beautiful. I enjoyed the performance but this is a book that at times I wished I had the physical book in front of my so I could see the beauty of the words on the page.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marianna Cleveland Mead, WA, US 04-21-11
    Marianna Cleveland Mead, WA, US 04-21-11 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    17
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    "No........don't do it!!"

    Sorry.......but this one is not even worth your effort. Not sure what I was thinking when I purchased it. Don't do it!!!

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 08-15-10
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 08-15-10 Member Since 2002

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2776
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    Overall
    "Good, but not for me..."

    This book is a style of book (like American Pastoral) that many people seem to like but does little for me. There are pleasant little characters and evocative images, vignettes, and analogies. It even has a meaning worth revealing, yet for me, much of this might be done in a poem or short story with more intensity than in a novel.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phil Belmont, CA, United States 05-02-09
    Phil Belmont, CA, United States 05-02-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ""Poetical language" is pretentious."

    I found "Tinkers" difficult to pay attention to for long. I don't think I have gotten more than a third of the way through its four and a half hours in three or four attempts. The language is flowery and over-blown.

    I was also somewhat annoyed by the narrator's voice and delivery. Not my kind of book.

    3 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MARCIA Lake Forest, CA, United States 05-06-09
    MARCIA Lake Forest, CA, United States 05-06-09 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
    77
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    "Didn't Quite "Get" It"

    I'm sorry, but I just didn't understand this book. There were some well written parts but overall it was a tedious listen. I pushed myself to listen to it all.

    2 of 9 people found this review helpful
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