Reading Log: Paul Harding’s Tinkers


by Paul Harding


Tinkers is a short book, but it was hard to get through. One might be tempted to call the prose purple if it weren’t so wonderful and evocative; dense and elaborate figurative language and metaphors that shift and distort. It’s all done masterfully, with sentences wrought like Edwardian iron fences. The point-of-view shifts, the tense shifts, and glimpses within glimpses within glimpses offer different meanings on all three levels. It’s beautiful to read, but laborious. I found myself only picking it up when I was energized and in good spirits and choosing something else to read if I were tired or distracted in any way.

The heaviness of the book isn’t indicative of any failings, of course. It’s a fantastic piece of work and Paul Harding deserves every bit of success and praise that’s come his way through this book. It shows the innermost parts of the lives of ordinary people in a beautiful way, weaving together sensory images and evoking the wonder of a mind in an untethered state of pure remembrance, filling the gaps with judicious use of the omniscient.

Any complaints I have about the Tinkers are too nebulous to give any credible voice to. I feel like there is something too laborious in the prose, that the elevated perspective gives the book some reach that exceeds its grasp, but I can’t find any distinct examples. Another reading is definitely required before I can either make any substantiated criticism or give this book a place in my top 100. Nonetheless, I’m thrilled I picked it up and read it, slowly and deliberately, and I’ll recommend it unreservedly.

Recommendation: Read it, and then explain to me why I can’t make up my mind about how much I like this book.

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