Thursday, June 02, 2011

Book Club June meeting - Tinkers

Tinker: definition from wikipedia: An itinerant tinsmith who mended household utensils.
A beautifully designed cover, so evocative of the story within

When I first heard the title of this book, the selection for May, I thought of the expression: "Who gives a tinker's dam?" A little research revealed that a tinker's curse was considered of little significance because tinkers were reputed to swear all the time.

On the day of our book club meeting, I was at the dentist with Beth. Dr. Moran asked us what book we were currently reading and when Beth said, "Tinkers", he quickly quipped "Tinker to Evers to Chance". When we looked at him blankly, he explained that this was a famous double play in baseball. Seems it was immortalized in the poem, "Baseball's Sad Lexicon" by Franklin Pierce Adams in 1920 and has come to mean, "like clockwork" or "like a well oiled machine".

Baseball's Sad Lexicon
These are the saddest of possible words:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."

Paul Harding, the former drummer of the rock group, Cold Water Flat penned this haunting story, a Pulitzer prize winning first novel, about tinkers across generations.  On his death bed, George, a good man surrounded by his family, remembers his childhood with his father; his father's struggle with epilepsy, his grim life trudging through the countryside with wagon and horse selling trinkets and household goods to farmers in a mendable world where the tinker was a welcome sight and served a critical need in the community. As his dying hours pass he recalls his loveless joyless mother and their unmendable household sadness.  There are riveting descriptions of the chaotic epileptic seizures his father endured, a situation where the sufferer is completely out of control, and equally interesting narratives about repairing clocks, a process which is totally precise and in the control of the tinkerer.                               

Everyone enjoyed the book and the lyrical writing. Several of us read and re-read parts of the book as once through wasn't time enough to both absorb the words and examine the thoughts, memories and emotions the story aroused in each of us....memories of parents, home, siblings, loss. 

Barbara hosted at her lovely home. Sipping our wine and enjoying the warm evening, we strolled through the herb and flower-filled paths on her property meandering down to her stable to visit her horses and gorgeous tack room. Her two Australian Shepherds herded us over to view the outstanding vegetable garden and berry patch.  Onion bouquets hung from the branches of trees, berries were bursting from the bushes. During our book discussion an uninvited but welcome screeching owl added comments from the back yard. 

Food was wonderful: we had cracker/cheese/tomato appetizers, deviled eggs, two chicken salads, a vegetable salad, braised artichokes, seasoned avocado chunks and candied oranges which Beth smuggled back with her from Arles, France. Using Linda's (absent member) recipe, Barbara made an Amazing Fresh Blackberry Pie, the piece de resistance. Cooked and fresh blackberries were piled high in the crust; the fresh taste and texture of the ripe, juicy blackberries accented the flavor of the cooked and sweetened blackberry foundation. Served with creamy vanilla ice cream it was a sheer delight. Was it the good company? The beautiful surroundings or was this the best blackberry pie I've ever tasted! A perfect end to a lovely evening.  

Dreamy blackberry pie


Tack room, dog leg, nice toes

Book Club rite in progress

Rare rear view of the species - Book Clubitis Fallbrookanea

Merry book clubbers getting ready to eat.

Barb's lovely kitchen
Onion garlands 
Blackberry bushes


  1. Sounds like a wonderful evening and a good book. Sorry we missed it.

  2. Anonymous6:20 PM

    hi helen did richard know the "tinkers saying?" charlie knew what it meant beth c

  3. Anonymous6:27 PM

    Helen please remind me not to wear my scrubs to the next book club beth c