Sunday, August 1, 2010

Paul Harding - Tinkers (Bellevue Literary Press, 2010) ****½

"Tinkers" wond the Pulitzer Prize, not a small feat and rightly so. This relatively short novel - only 190 pages - is a pretty unique achievement, defying traditional forms you would expect for a novel.

The plot is simple and consists of two threads. One a the beginning of last century, telling the story of an epileptic man, Howard, trying to survive with wife and children by peddling from village to village. The second is about his son George, lying on his deathbed in his old age, surrrounded by his family.

Howard's epileptic spells give him visions of the world that are more acute, and possibly give some insights in what lies behind reality. George was a clock-maker, knowing the mechanisms behind time, its subtleties and intricacies.

Harding not delves into the depths of human existence, but adds a world of language that goes beyond the rational and descriptive, conjuring up images that present reality differently, less familiar but more adequate and full of the emotional wonder it has that goes beyond the explicable, whether it's about nature, about feelings, about relationships or about life itself. His prose is lyrical and eloquent, mythical and mistifying. It is not always easy to read : you need to take your time and experience the text rather than just read it. In that sense, it's really comparable to good music.

This is poetry in a prose format. This is music in words.

Don't miss it.

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