Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. An old man lies dying. Confined to bed in his living room, he sees the walls around him begin to collapse, the windows come loose from their sashes, and the ceiling plaster fall off in great chunks, showering him with a lifetime of debris: newspaper clippings, old photographs, wool jackets, rusty tools, and the mangled brass works of antique clocks. Soon, the clouds from the sky above plummet down on top of him, followed by the stars, till the black night covers him like a shroud. He is hallucinating, in death throes from cancer and kidney failure.
A methodical repairer of clocks, he is now finally released from the usual constraints of time and memory to rejoin his father, an epileptic, itinerant peddler, whom he had lost 7 decades before. In his return to the wonder and pain of his impoverished childhood in the backwoods of Maine, he recovers a natural world that is at once indifferent to man and inseparable from him, menacing and awe inspiring.
Tinkers is about the legacy of consciousness and the porousness of identity from one generation the next. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, it is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.
GEORGE WASHINGTON CROSBY BEGAN TO
hallucinate eight days before he died. From the
rented hospital bed, placed in the middle of his
own living room, he saw insects running in and out of
imaginary cracks in the ceiling plaster. The panes in the
windows, once snugly pointed and glazed, stood loose
in their sashes. The next stiff breeze would topple them
all and they would flop onto the heads of his family, who
sat on the couch and the love seat and the kitchen chairs
his wife had brought in to accommodate everyone. The
torrent of panes would drive everyone from the room,
his grandchildren in from Kansas and Atlanta and
Seattle, his sister in from Florida, and he would be
marooned on his bed in a moat of shattered glass.
Pollen and sparrows, rain and the intrepid squirrels he
had spent half of his life keeping out of the bird feeders
would breach the house.
He had built the house himself - poured the foundation, raised the frame, joined the pipes, run the wires, ...
Tinkers is a skillfully written novel. It succeeds in demonstrating that our daily, microcosmic lives contain vastness and fantasy. This book offers its reader a meditation on the private geography of the mind and, through Harding's characters, a glimpse of our own efforts to piece together the broken and mismatched elements of human relationships and existence.
(Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).
Full Review (733 words).
Protagonist George Crosby's love for repairing clocks is a prominent theme in Tinkers, which includes references to a fictional 1783 book called The Reasonable Horologist.
Horology encompasses both the science of measuring time and the art of making time pieces. Thus, horologists include watchmakers, clockmakers, scholars, scientists and hobbyists. Humans have long been concerned with recording the passage of time - from Stonehenge to calendar stones to sundials and atomic clocks*, civilizations have sought the most precise way to record time. Today, we can pull up the official United States time with just a few keystrokes!
There are numerous museums and libraries around the world devoted to ...
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