Tinkers by Paul Harding- guest post by Jacob Martin

Jacob is a fantastic fantasy writer, one of the most well and widely-read people I know, a critic, an owner of a book signed by both Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, a photographer, and all round top bloke. You can view his blog here

Tinkers is one of those books that I am utterly surprised still gets published – because it’s all about the art.
Poetic is a word lazy reviewers throw around to the point it’s a cliche – but I stand by my statement that I haven’t seen this much haiku-like imagery in word pictures since I read Basho: The Complete Haiku.
And I don’t throw Basho comparisons around like Smarties. The author seems to have pulled off what I previously thought impossible; capturing the strong word-picture imagery of haiku in prose.
The whole concept of this book is so literary it hurts – the dying gasps of a bedridden terminal cancer and kidney failure patient who has hallucinatory visions of himself as a younger man and of his epileptic father,
who died before his condition was truly understood by the medical profession.

And yet this isn’t the most depressing thing I’ve ever read in the literary prize-winner genre of fiction (which are too often populated by books that make you want to kill yourself).
It brings to mind that since last year’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, another excellent book I’d recommend, literature is turning its back on the drab and depressing aspects that frightened people away from it. This has been replaced with a kind of literature that celebrates human dignity as we face our own problems – whether it be death, or the struggle of life itself.
Literature shouldn’t be depressing for its own sake. And small but minutely detailed books like Harding’s can be as important as the massive doorstoppers that defined earlier eras of human achievement in this artform. I give Tinkers five stars.

(to hear more about Paul Harding’s Tinkers visit the abc book show)


~ by ConsanguineousMind on July 12, 2010.

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