Thursday 5 December 2013

Tinkers by Paul Harding

I first read Tinkers in 2010 soon after it won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature that year.

Girl Booker raved about Tinkers so highly and so often, that I simply had to read it myself to find out what all the fuss was about. (Click here to read her review about Harding's latest book Enon.)

I was thrilled by the gorgeous writing, the conversation about time & memory and the imagery. In fact, some of the scenes are burnt forever into my soul's memory.

George's life as a tinker in the backwoods of America was completely outside my realm of experience. His story resonated so strongly though it became personal; the beauty of the American woods came alive through his eyes until I felt like I had also walked those paths.

One of the scenes that has stayed with me vividly, is George, or his father, in the middle of winter, driving the wagon through the snow. There was a moment of intense peace; time, memory, history & place perfectly captured in one brief paragraph.

I can picture the wagon with its many little drawers and shelves and compartments for all the bric á brac of the tinkers trade.

Then, one day, three years later, I'm wandering through the Art Gallery of NSW's 'America' exhibition and I'm stopped in my tracks.

It's the tinker; the wagon - right there in front of me! I recognised him straight away.

It was Thomas Wood's 'The Yankee Pedlar'.

A little kinder, softer and gentler than I remembered from the book, but it was the tinker nonetheless.

I love that Tinkers is still alive inside of me. I love that memories of it pop up when I least expect it in the most unlikeliest of places.

A good book can give you connections, a good feeling, a warm glow.

But a great book stays with you forever.

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