“[A] major voice in American fiction.” —Chicago Tribune
“[Harding’s] prose is steeped in a visionary, transcendentalist tradition that echoes Blake, Rilke, Emerson, and Thoreau.” —The New Yorker
“Harding is a superb stylist.” —Entertainment Weekly
Paul Harding is the author of two novels about multiple generations of a New England family, Enon (Random House, 2013) and Tinkers (Bellevue Literary Press, 2009), which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the PEN American Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers. In an interview with Publishers Weekly about his work, Harding has said that he is “interested in the greater whole of which we are a part, but cannot perceive. That makes death an interesting threshold. It fascinates me in the context of our mortality.”
Harding was a fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center, in Provincetown, MA and has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard University, and Grinnell College. Before becoming a writer, Harding played drums in the rock band Cold Water Flat, with which he toured North America and Europe several times and recorded two albums. Harding has a BA in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Currently, he lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.
Paul Harding is the author of two novels, Enon and Tinkers, which was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the PEN American Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers. Harding was a fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard University, and Grinnell College. Before becoming a writer, Harding played drums in the rock band Cold Water Flat, with which he toured North America and Europe several times and recorded two albums.
The Dallas Morning News observed that “like Faulkner, Harding never shies away from describing what seems impossible to put into words.” Here, in Enon, Harding follows a year in the life of Charlie Crosby as he tries to come to terms with a shattering personal tragedy. Grandson of George Crosby (the protagonist of Tinkers), Charlie inhabits the same dynamic landscape of New England, its seasons mirroring his turbulent emotional odyssey. Along the way, Charlie’s encounters are brought to life by his wit, his insights into history, and his yearning to understand the big questions. A stunning mosaic of human experience, Enon affirms Paul Harding as one of the most gifted and profound writers of his generation.
Hailed as “a masterpiece”(NPR), Tinkers, Paul Harding’s Pulitzer Prize-winning debut, is a modern classic. 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.
ENON (novel excerpt)
Most men in my family make widows of their wives and orphans of their children. I am the exception. My only child, Kate, was struck and killed by a car while riding her bicycle home from the beach one afternoon in September, a year ago. She was thirteen. My wife, Susan, and I separated soon afterward.
I was walking in the woods when Kate died. I’d asked her the day before if she wanted to pack a lunch and go to the Enon River to hike around and feed the birds and maybe rent a canoe. The birds were tame and ate seeds from people’s hands. From the first time I’d taken her she’d been enchanted with the chickadees and titmice and nuthatches that pecked seeds from her palm, and when she was younger she’d treated feeding the birds as if they depended on it.
Kate said going to the sanctuary sounded great, but she and her friend Carrie Lewis had made plans to go to the beach, and could she go if she was super careful.
“Especially around the lake, and the shore road,” I said.
“Especially there, Dad,” she said.
I remembered riding my rattly old bike to the beach with my friends when I was a kid. We wore cutoff shorts and draped threadbare bath towels around our necks. We never wore shirts or shoes. We would have laughed at the idea of bike helmets. I don’t remember locking our bikes when we got to the beach, although we must have. I told Kate, all right, she could go, and she told me she loved me and kissed me on the ear.
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