I literally just finished reading Paul Harding’s Tinkers. Sometimes I don’t get to writing the blog until late at night, or I put down the book for awhile and go do something else to let the book sit with me. I closed the book and picked up my iPhone to type this blog. I apologize for any misspellings- it difficult to type on this thing.
Those that read this blog wouldn’t know that my Dad left my mom, my two brothers, and I when I was very young. The story is complicated as most divorces are, and I would be willing to guess that my Dad wouldn’t frame what happened with that wording – left us- but whatever the case, he wasn’t a part of my life at all. Ken left and started over with his own family that he kept separate from us. And for most of my life I waited for him to come and find us. A lot of my childhood is a blur due a very fickle memory on my part- through a series of complicated circumstances as well- but I can remember being twelve and being very good with maps because I needed to be able to tell my Dad how to get to us like he couldn’t find us and that is why he never came. I am also a Red Sox fan because, although I never spoke to my Dad, I assumed he followed them as intently as I did because I was born in Boston and he lived in New Hampshire. I found out very recently that he doesn’t follow sports, and when he did he was a Bulls fan which ironically is where my mother moved when she left back to Illinois. I mention all of this now because this book gave me another way back into my story. For a long time in my life I have felt like a detective uncovering things long forgotten- who my dad was and why he left and similar such stories. So I appreciate opportunities to feel my story again. Harding captures this story with surprising clarity and power. I got to read for the first time an expert writer capture a scene, unfortunately not from my real life, but from how I have envisioned meeting dad for the first time. With him coming to my house and knocking on the door with his hat in hand apologizing. Harding doesn’t give you long to linger in that moment and I was sort of mad when it ended because I thought at first that he clipped it but he didn’t.
This is a brilliant novel. Well worth a Pulitzer prize. It stands up against some of the other powerful winners. It hasn’t cracked into my top ten favorite novels of all time- but it definitely in the top 15 pulitzers. I know this wasn’t much of a review. All that I can say is take a day and read it- his lyrical wanderings are a welcome respite from chaotic modern life. Some of the writing in this book will literally break your heart. And as a young writer, his writing is humbling, and makes me strive to be a better writer. His writing isn’t as unapproachable as Penn Warren’s but it is of an elite class that I definitely admire.