Tinkers by Paul Harding
Nature is an unknown factor in our lives; while we have tried to tame it, to understand it wholly, nature always comes back with a destructive violence or a majestic beauty, an unexplained phenomenon that halts humanity's hubris. The same can be said of human nature, that we'll never know the effects our lives--sometimes violent, sometimes nurturing--will have on others. With his Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Tinkers" Paul Harding examines the lives of three successive generations of men, and seeks to describe the impact of the unknowable human nature on their families. Interweaving the narratives of their lives--inner and outer--Harding effortlessly moves between the ages and the minds with an exactness that left me stunned. Encountering the moments in our lives when we feel a profound sense of connectedness to the greater mysteries is difficult enough, but tackling these ethereal experiences and putting them to words is a remarkable feat. My favorite moment came at the end of the novel (no spoilers here, I promise) when he wrote "We sensed, finally, the foolishness of attributing the unknown to secret cabals, to conspiracies. Everything was almost always obscure. Understanding shown when it did, for no discernable reason, and we were content." Amen to that.