“Should’ve been a one page poem”
3.1 out of 4 stars.
I am embarrassed to say that there were a few times I was completely lost with this one. I found myself dazing around the page and instead of trying to reread sentences due to my confusion I instead just moved on to the next section. I felt like I was back in school drudging through a forced reading assignment about Bewoulf. This sense of disdain surprises me since Harding had such a gripping topic; life and death. The main character is George Washington Crosby. An elderly gentleman that lies in bed waiting to die. He is in and out of consciousness and while doing so his thoughts travel back in time to when he was a child. His mind mostly focuses on his relationship with his father, Howard. A man who was a peddler that traveled around town selling and fixing items (where the title comes from).
This is one of those books where I would imagine everyone takes on a different perspective/thought process from the tale after finishing. Mine was the importance of story-telling and making sure to pass down memories to loved ones so one is never forgotten. I believe Crosby struggled toward the end because he physically had trouble communicating but wishes he could tell everything that was last minute popping up. I do feel like ANY story about one’s last few minutes on earth is going to be touching and thought provoking. In my eyes, it is a little bit of a “gimme”. With that said, I am at a loss for how this won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010. As stated earlier, I think Harding could of just had this as a beautiful poem. His way of writing is so graceful and imaginary. Unfortunately, it can also be seen as a little bit of overly confident. I much prefer cherry picking some wonderful lines instead of weeding through them. At times it was all too much and I felt bored with all the detail. So many specifics but not any POINT.
If you love the written word and would like to explore how far one can take it than this book may be one you cannot stop reading over and over. Every time realizing a new surprise. For me? Not so much.