The debut novel from Iowa Writer's Workshop graduate Paul Harding centers on a dying man's reveries and hallucinations--a recurring literary trope--offering "a sense of primal encounter with the brilliant, elusive world of the senses."

Book Digest Some months ago I received an anthology from a heretofore unknown (to me) publisher, Bellevue Literary Press. Apparently I have been blessed to remain on their mailing list, as I have continued to receive their offerings. Of late I am a fortunate recipient of Iowa Writer’s Workshop graduate Paul Harding’s debut novel, Tinkers.

An imminently dying man’s reveries and hallucinations have been the stuff of literature—most memorably for me, Carlos Fuentes’s The Death of Artemio Cruz—and Harding’s rendering is replete with a fantastic array of forehead-slapping ruminations and observations and adroit and elegiac turns of phrases such as:
The field was an abandoned lot. The remnants of an old house, long ago fallen into ruin, stood at the back of the field. The flowers must have been the latest generation of perennials, whose ancestors were first planted by a woman who lived in the ruins when the ruins were a raw unpainted house inhabited by herself and a smoky serious husband and perhaps a pair of silent serious daughters and the flowers were an act of resistance against the raw bare lot with its raw house sticking up from the raw earth like an act of sheer inevitable necessary madness because human beings have to live somewhere and in something and here is just as outrageous as there because in either (in any place) it seems like an interruption, an intrusion on something that, no matter how many times she read in her Bible, Let them have dominion, seemed marred dispelled vanquished once people arrived with their catastrophic voices and saws and plows and began to sing and hammer and carve and erect. So the flowers were maybe a balm…
It’s a remarkable book, somewhat reminiscent of one of Harding’s mentors, Marilynne Robinson, who enthusiastically blurbs:
Tinkers is truly remarkable. It achieves and sustains a unique fusion of language and perception. Its fine touch plays over the textured richnesses of very modest lives, evoking again and again a frisson of deep recognition, a sense of primal encounter with the brilliant, elusive world of the senses. It confers on the reader the best privilege fiction can afford, the illusion of ghostly proximity to other human souls.
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