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19 April 2014

'Enon' by Paul Harding

Paul Harding really is that good

Most good writers entertain me, sometimes they teach me and often they leave me eager for more.  Most bad writers leave me indifferent and at worst annoyed at the waste of my time.  Then there are great writers… You all have read a few of them.  The kinds of writers that make you want to write; the kind of writers that make you despair of writing because you will never be as good; the kind of writer whose turn of phrase lingers in your mind; the kind of writer whose characters have depth and subtlety and grace regardless of their age or status… That kind of writer is Paul Harding. I did not think he could write like that again.

I cried at the beginning.  I cried at the end.  I cried in between.  Sometimes I was sad, often I was grateful… Harding is that good.  The whole story is told from the point of one man, Charlie Crosby.  His triumphs but mostly his loss and failure are told in his beloved home town of Enon.  The reader gets to know some of the towns people and the history of the town.  I also got to know my own sense of judgement, tolerance and sympathy.   In taking Charlie's mask off to see him, I had to take mine off and see myself.  There are some hard lessons in this book if you are willing to look closely.  If you only wish to enjoy a beautiful story, beautifully told, then this is also a book for you.

I read 'Tinkers', his Pulitzer Prize winning book and thought I was in story telling heaven...  The elegant sort of heaven with beautiful libraries and gardens in which to read with just the right kind of tea and chocolate that matches the kind of book you wish to read that day. Ehem… Instead, he did it again.  'Enon' is a love story with a town and a child and life and choices and and and.  It is not a romance. There are no happy endings if what you mean by happy endings are everyone living whole, vindicated and happily ever after.  The best this book can offer is hope and a grown up sort of hope at that…exactly the sort of hope that dawn brings every day, no solutions only … opportunity, potential… for good or bad.  That 'Enon' happens to be a distant continuation of 'Tinkers' gives it added depth and poignance.  It is not necessary to read one before the other.  'Enon' is beautiful on its own.

Paul Harding 
ISBN: 9780434021727 

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