On his deathbed and surrounded by his family, George Crosby, the protagonist of Paul Hardy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Tinkers, spends his final days absorbed in the hallucinogenic cinema of his own memory. Brought up in New England in the early decades of the twentieth century, George meditates upon a lost world brimming with bootleggers and evangelical preachers, soap salesman and hermits, as he conjures both his grandfather and his father – a tinker who abandoned his wife and children and set out for the road after an epileptic seizure to avoid incarceration. What follows is a kind of mock-epic: a quiet family saga spanning three generations in a mere 191 pages, recounted in lofty, melancholic prose. While there’s a lot to admire in Harding’s elegiac work, I wasn’t quite convinced it earned a place alongside the likes of Harper Lee or Saul Bellow. Still, Tinkers is that rarest of things: a literary novel that achieves everything it sets out to accomplish.
Boxer Beetle by Ned Beauman has been garnering hype since its publisher signed a two-book deal with the 25-year-old author, and I can see why. Its ambitions are enormous, in terms of the range, energy and quality of its writing.
Kevin ‘Fishy’ Bloom is a collector of