Tinkers by Paul Harding (2009)
As a man lies dying, we travel with him back to his New England childhood, the memories interspersed with stories of his father’s life. A short book, but rich with detail and feeling, both fantastical and spare, realistic and poetic.
This is a book to bring with you someplace quiet where you won’t be disturbed and can just absorb it alone in peace. At least that is what I wish I had done. The dying man, George, and his father Howard, were both likeable yet flawed, and I really liked the slow revealing of each character. I loved the scenes of Howard driving his cart around selling his wares, and about the people he met and experiences he had. But the descriptions of George repairing clocks were also quite wonderful.
I dog-eared a lot of pages in this book. I’m pretty sure I’ll read it again someday, so I’m glad I have my own copy. It’s a pleasure on many levels: the story is good, the characters are appealing, the language is just beautiful.
Here is a passage I marked, one of my favorites:
“And as the ax bites into the wood, be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world, even though you have done nothing to deserve it. And when you resent the ache in your heart, remember: You will be dead and buried soon enough.”