Tinkering Gods

by C. Omaña Villanueva

The NGY Review, December 16, 2018


Paul Harding’s Tinkers was released on a small press but soon found immediate popularity with its rather convoluted and experimental narrative. This paper examines the characterization of the three main characters of the book, the patriarch tinker (a tinker is a gypsy salesman), his son and grandson, in terms of how they are metaphors for the gods of Greek and Roman mythology. This paper also explores Harding’s crafting technique which resembles abstract painting, where words rather than paint are layered upon and then removed from the page. Harding’s technique is important in that his focus is characterization to create depth and engagement with the reader in order to push through the challenging plot. As Harding has noted, plot then becomes something that his characters, the driving force of the narrative, simply do. Three mythological gods are proposed as metaphors: Uranus, Saturn, and Mercury. The traits of each and how they are integrated into Harding’s characters are explored. This is the secret to Harding’s depth of characterization in that he uses ancient and unconscious archetypes to solidify and clarify his characters in the minds of readers, enabling the plot to be secondary.  

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