This was the second novel for Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Harding, and was published near the end of 2104. His debut novel is called Tinkers and, if this story is anything to go by, it is not surprising that it’s an award-winner. The praise for it includes such words as wonderful, remarkable, captivating, hypnotic . . . all adjectives that could also be applied to this second effort.
Enon is the name of the village in Maine in which the first person narrator has lived all his life. We get a sense of the area and its surrounds as he looks back on his life and activities with friends and loved ones during happier times. Basically though, the narrative covers a year of Charlie’s life following the death of his 13-year-old daughter.
One gets the feeling he’s been a so-so landscape gardener but a devoted father and husband. When the bottom falls out of Charlie’s world, he falls into a pit of despair from which there seems no respite.
Yes, this all sounds exceedingly bleak but it’s an excellent read nonetheless.
By Paul Harding
(Random House, RRP $30)