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Tinkers ~ Paul Harding

February 19, 2011

Genre: Adult Fiction/Pulitzer Winner
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
192 pages
ISBN: 9781934137123
Source: Bookstore

Eighty-year-old George Washington Crosby is in life’s ultimate waiting room. Pearlescent tiles above, white walls all around and colorless bedsheets wrapped around his quickly deteriorating body, George is on death’s literal bed, living life in reverse, inside out and upside down.

Meandering from childhood memories of his own past, backward to his father’s childhood and even slivers of his grandfather’s adventures, George’s accounts are beautiful, thoughtful and carefully told. This is less a novel and more a mini meditation on layers and generations of simple, hardworking men making their way in the world.

I think that, even though this was a bit of a slow, albeit small, read for me, it hit home in places I didn’t expect. I find that there are stories I’m reading now, in my late twenties, that strike me differently as a mom, wife and employer than they would have had I read them earlier in my life.

I think that because this book is such an exercise in rest and reflection, it is one of the more subjective books a reader might come across. Of course, because of that, I’ve been dreading review time. I know; I know: all reviews, especially mine, are subjective and should reflect the reviewer as much as the reading but I think that this is one of those that will resonate completely differently with people who have had common or uncommon experiences as related to the book.

As far as my thoughts on how it fits into the list of past Pulitzer winners, I think that it fits alongside Gilead (which I’m about to finish, as well) as a similar twin. While I, typically, find myself to be a bigger fan of picks like Olive Kitteridge and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, it’s nice to come across the deeper, slower bits every now and then.

This is not a book to be rushed and, really, should be read over a long weekend at the cabin or a week at the beach for the best experience.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2011 10:02 pm

    I totally believe that you can’t appreciate certain books until you are at a certain place in live. This does sound like one of them. I know there are books I read when I was younger that I couldn’t possibly have appreciated or fully understood until now.

  2. February 20, 2011 11:22 pm

    I have heard a lot of good things about this book, and the meditative and quiet qualities of the story really appeal to me. I am glad that you had such a good experience with it. I am looking forward to adding it to my collection soon. Thanks for the thoughtful and heartfelt review.

    • February 21, 2011 7:22 am

      It’s a good one. Not a fast one but a good one. Compared to other recent Pulitzers, like Olive K and Oscar Wao, it dulls a little bit. It’s not even as sparkly as Gilead but it has its own unique charm that I have to respect it for. It’s a beautiful little thing. :O)

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