Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tinkers by Paul Harding

This is a beautifully crafted book. Each sentence, every word selected is a meditation on language. The story revolves around George Washington Crosby who is dying. As he lies in bed he remembers the past. His reverie involves three generations of the family.

George repaired clocks for a living. And clocks provide a metaphor for the passage of time.

He recalls his father Howard who sold pots and pans and other items from a horse drawn wagon. His father
suffered from epilepsy at a time when there were many erroneous notions about epileptics. Hardings description of Howard's seizures while graphic is also poetic--yet still retains the terrifying specifics of the portrayed scenes.

The story moves seamlessly between George, Howard and Howard's father.There's a rhythm to the memories and to the specifics of those memories. The story, as constructed , reminds me if an intricately woven rug where the patterns emerge with each new thread.

Whether Harding is describing the workings of a clock, the cold, a man who is losing his hold on reality, he is magnifying life. George is dying, but the book is a not so much about death as it is about illuminating life.

Paul Harding writes prose with the ear of a poet. I think that each phrase and every word carries it's weight. As I read I often stopped, took a deep breath and reread the passage.

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