Tinkers, by Paul Harding, has won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. Please forgive me if you read it and reviewed it on your blog and I somehow missed it. I must have been in a coma that day, because I have honestly never heard of this book. How did I miss that wonderful cover? I read a fair amount of book blogs regularly, and I have seen far more mentions (as in, some to none) of the two runners-up, Lydia Millet’s Love in Infant Monkeys and the highly praised Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (oh, how I love that title). Has anyone read this? Anyone at all? I am putting it on my TBR list. Even the New York Times is having to say mea culpa on this one…
Hooray for small presses! This is a big victory for the little guys.
Here’s the publisher’s synopsis for Tinkers:
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.