In 2010, the Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Tinkers, a 185-page novel that’s written almost like poetry. The heart of this story is the tragedy of an abrupt and unexplained estrangement between a father and his son. It’s an incident cautiously explored but usually avoided by the two men: father Howard, a tinker (or, as Paul Harding puts it, the humblest kind of traveling salesman) and son George, who finds pleasure putting together old clocks. Tinkers doesn’t stray, for the most part, from the consciousnesses of its characters, so that we follow wandering trains of thought rather than any particular plot line. But Harding creates a driving sense of narrative tension in his descriptions of Howard. At one moment, Howard is full of kindness and warmth, and in the next, he seems impossibly distant from his young family. His epileptic seizures make for some of the most vivid and intense scenes I read all year, but they’re a source of terror for himself and those around him.
Paul Harding was interviewed by Sam on the Avid Reader in November. His thoughtful answers made us love Tinkers even more! Check out the interview at this link.
Like our podcast? Write us a review on iTunes! just search for the Avid Reader.