Friday, January 20, 2012

"Tinkers" by Paul Harding

I picked the book, "Tinkers" up at the airport before a long flight. I chose it because (1) it was not a bodice-ripper nor a business book like so many other books on offer at the airport, (2) a little gold seal on the cover told me that it was a "Winner of the Pultzer Prize," and (3) it was a slim volume, so I thought that I might be able to finish it on the plane, as I had three other books going simultaneously at home and I did not want go for four.

"Tinkers" was really different and very good. Well, first a confession. I really dislike poetry. I hate to admit that, because I think it makes me sound unsophisticated, as though I were saying that I prefer cool aid to merlot or fish sticks with ketchup to lobster!

But, I just don't like much poetry. "Tinkers" is NOT poetry, but it is evocative of poetry - and I really like it! Clearly, Paul Harding is doing something right! I am even one of those people that kind of skims over the parts where some authors include too much long-winded description of how things look. I like to kind of fast forward to action or dialogue.

But, listen to this from page 53, "He resisted the desire to stop the wagon and give Prince Edward an apple and crawl into the shadows and sit quietly and become a part of the slow freshet of night, or to stop the wagon and simply remain on the bench and watch the shadows approach and pool around the wagon wheels and Prince Edward's hooves and eventually reach the soles of his shoes and then his ankles, until mule, cart, and man were submerged in the flood time of night, because the secrets gathered in the shadows at the tree line that rustled and waited until he passed, and which made the hair on his arms and the back of his neck stand on end and his scalp tighten when he felt them flooding, invisible, the road around him, were dispelled each time he turned his direct attention to them, scattered to just beyond his sight. The true essence, the secret recipe of the forest and the light and the dark was far too fine and subtle to be observed..."

That passage actually reminds me of a passage from Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb:'

"When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look but it was gone. I cannot put my finger on it now - the child has grown, the dream is gone..."

Same idea...

Anyway, the point is that this author does description so well that even I really liked it.

So, the title comes from the fact tht the father and son are tinkers and fix metal things and clocks. There are cool descriptions of unusual clocks kind of interjected throughout the book. I dog-earred page 18 because it held a description of one such fantastic clock. When I got home, I Googled it to see whether it was real or something that the author had dreamed up.

It is a description of a Bohemian clock that kept track of the seasons and when fall came each year, all these tiny clock-work leaves fell to the bottom of the clock(!)

Anyway, I searched a number of different ways and was disappointed. No clock. Now I do not know whether it was made up or whether it exists and I just can't find it.

But, I digress. The book was very captivating. Though there was a lot of wonderful description, there was also a plot and the threads were fairly neatly tied up at the end - something I always appreciate!

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