In this astonishing novel, Paul Harding creates a New England childhood, beginning with the landscape. And he does this, miracle of miracles, through the mind of another human being – not himself, someone else … Photographs and memories and old fears move through him. Clocks and pots and old heirlooms, all bearing stories, flesh out his history and that of his ancestors. In his imagination the whole structure, the life that took generations to build, comes tumbling down.
Tinkers is a finely crafted piece of work by a writer who clearly respects his own trade. In fact, what it most resembles is one of the antique clocks that the book’s protagonist so lovingly repairs. This is a book so meticulously assembled that vocabulary choices like ‘craquelure’ and ‘scrieved’ – far from seeming pretentious – serve as reminders of how precise and powerful a tool good English can be … But what gives this slender book its sweetness is a ribbon of beauty and the occasional surprise jolt of ‘major kindness.’ Tinkers is slow to boil. Its feel is anything but commercial. Perhaps that’s why it was so slow to find a publisher – and so quick to earn a prize.
In Paul Harding's stunning first novel, we find what readers, writers and reviewers live for: a new way of seeing, in a story told as a series of ruminative images, like a fanned card deck … Beneath the men's stories flows a series of heart-wrenching inquiries into the nature of life on earth, its terrible beauty, and the limits of our ability to comprehend and bear it … What's difficult to convey is the reach, and painful beauty, of Harding's language.