Tinkers

  • by Paul Harding
  • Narrated by Christian Rummel
  • 4 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2010
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 seven 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.

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What the Critics Say

"An outstanding debut.... The real star is Harding's language, which dazzles whether he's describing the workings of clocks, sensory images of nature, the many engaging side characters who populate the book, or even a short passage on how to build a bird nest. This is an especially gorgeous example of novelistic craftsmanship." (Publishers Weekly)
"This compact, adamantine debut dips in and out of the consciousness of a New England patriarch named George Washington Crosby as he lies dying on a hospital bed in his living room.... In Harding's skillful evocation, Crosby's life, seen from its final moments, becomes a mosaic of memories, 'showing him a different self every time he tried to make an assessment.'" (The New Yorker)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Unique but valuable read

I am glad I read this book, despite some of the posted reviews. True, the book is not "action" as some award books are. It is a psychological piece dealing with secrets, families and the passage of time.


The book is best read as a multi-genre "experience," and it has aspects of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. It also employs occasional stream of consciousness and shifting characters. I read the book hard copy as I listened, which helped. This could be a confusing book to "get" if you only have the audio file.


But the book is dreamy and intense, and reveals about human relationships by portraying them as foggy and obscure. A sad book overall, but optimistic, too. I liked it.
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- Joanne

Breath Taking

I had no preconceptions when I ordered Tinkers. My wife's book club selected it and in my ongoing effort to be a supportive husband I decided to "read" along. (If I had known the book's premise, I wouldn't have touched it with a ten foot pole. A book about a dieing man? Never.)

I was immediately taken by the poetry laced through out the narrative. The master of the well-turned phrase, John Updike, came to mind in light of the extordinary richness and color of the language in Tinkers.

Slowly I became increasingly interested in the odd assortment of characters. By the book's conclusion I was swept away by what is certainly the best work of fiction I have "read" in years.

Whether you have read Tinkers already or not, if you have not listened to it being read you have missed part of its enchantment. Close your eyes and let the stream of beautiful sentences flow over you.

In case you are wondering, I borrowed my wife's copy of Tinkers after her book club and read it through in one setting. Another wonderful, but less sensual experience.
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- marcus

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-29-2008
  • Publisher: Audible Studios