George Crosby, the hero of Paul Harding’s Pulitzer Prize-winning first novel, Tinkers, has been laid out to die on a rented hospital bed in his living-room, surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren. He is 80, a retired teacher and clock repairer, and is suffering from cancer and renal failure. In the last week of his life he begins to hallucinate about his childhood in rural Maine. His father, Howard, was a travelling salesman and odd-job man until he abandoned his family one day in 1927. George, who has never understood the reasons for his father’s desertion, has led a conventionally contented life marred by a sense of loss.
The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.