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Book Review

‘Enon’ is raw and enlightening

2/5/2014

book.jpgCourtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Fay Jones

Random House

9/10/13

$26

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256 pp.              

Paul Harding’s moving second novel takes place in the same fictional Massachusetts town, Enon, as his debut novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Tinkers.” He also writes of the same family: Charlie Crosby, the first-person narrator of “Enon,” is the grandson of George Crosby, the protagonist of “Tinkers.”

As “Enon” begins, we find in the first devastating paragraph that Charlie’s 13-year-old daughter, Kate, has been killed while riding her bike back from the beach and his wife has left him.

Charlie lived a simple life with a modest house and landscaping job that helped to pay the bills. He seemed to exist for his marriage and especially for his relationship with his daughter. “Kate gave my life joy,” he says. “I loved her totally, and while I Ioved her, the world was love. Once she was gone, the world seemed to prove nothing more than ruins and the smoldering dreams of monsters.” Once his wife leaves, Charlie deteriorates quickly, and grief consumes him. He quits working, dismantles his phone, stops bathing and eating and descends into a cycle of self-abuse mixing whiskey, muscle relaxers and cough syrup to sleep his life away.

Avoiding contact with anyone, he walks Enon under the cover of darkness and visits the graveyard. In and out of consciousness, he recounts memories of Kate as well as his own boyhood in Enon, which tells the story of the town history offering a feel for the setting over time.

Harding presents a poetic and powerful story of a father in fierce depression, Charlie, an almost unlikeable character. CV               

Fay Jones was born with a love of literature, which was finely shored up throughout her early years by her parents & a beloved children’s librarian who wore the thickest glasses ever manufactured. Ms. Jones once won a coupon for a free ice cream cone after her suggestion for a name for the local Reading Is Fundamental mascot was selected.

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