Powerful, brilliantly written, and deeply moving Paul Harding has, in Enon, written a worthy successor to Tinkers, a debut which John Freeman on NPR called “a masterpiece.” Drawn always to the rich landscape of his character’s inner lives, here, through the first person narrative of Charlie Crosby (grandson to George Crosby of Tinkers), Harding creates a devastating portrait of a father trying desperately to come to terms with family loss.
If you are looking for a read that is full of plot twists and turns, feel good characters and a happy ending, then you would be well advised to give this tragic book a miss. If you are prepared to dive into its pages, you may be surprised at the emotions it evokes in you.
Without revealing spoilers, this novel is a journey into hell via the grief and anguish of one man. We see how this duo enables his year-long addiction to alcohol and drugs, alienates those he loves and are trying to support him, and generally takes him on a downward spiral few of us could imagine going on. This novel takes the reader to the brink of the character’s madness, as we are trapped inside his head during his periods of hallucinations and flashbacks while he struggles unsuccessfully to come to grips with the destroying loss he has suffered.
To pull no punches, this is a grim and almost depressing book, but the Author has written it beautifully and with great assurance; bringing to the page something that needs to be read to understand that we, although of the same species, do not cope with grief in the same way. The book is written in the first person narrative, and this style is very effective in making this novel believable as we drift with the main protagonist further from his hold on reality.
I did find in some places that the book was a little disjointed and rambling, whether or not this was intentional on the part of the Author to play into the whole mind of the main character I don’t know, but it was a little distracting at times and pulled away some of my enjoyment in this read. Also, not being a voyeur, I found this book to give me an uncomfortable feeling as if I were intruding in a place I really should not have been, and this again detracted from my enjoyment. The unending flow of misery and isolation really began to pull me down in the end, and I was relieved when I finally turned the last page and was able to set this aside.
Although the book was definitely not for me, I gave it a three thumbs rating because of the way in which it is written. It is rich in prose and the visual landscapes of settings and emotions the reader encounters as they ‘journey’ through the book, were written in such a way as to demonstrate the command of the pen this Author appears to have.
If you enjoy reading about another’s pain, be it self-induced or inflicted on them by forces beyond their control, this is probably a read you would enjoy, other than those in this area I really couldn’t recommend this novel to readers of any one particular genre.