A Brief Interview With Paul Harding

Brief Interviews is a new series in which writers discuss language, literature, and a handful of Proustian personality questions.

Paul Harding is the author of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, "Tinkers." His debut book, "Tinkers" tells the story of an elderly man living in New England, lost in memories of his father, a clockmaker. The book also won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. His second novel, "Enon," [Random House, $26.00] released last month.

What is your most prized possession?
My home.

Who (or what) do you envy?

Where do you like to read?
Various nooks in my house.

What did you want to be when you grew up (besides an author)?
A special effects creator for movies (pre-digital era).

What bothers you most about the English language today?
Jargon derived from advertising, marketing, profit-making, politicking

What's your favorite word?
At this very moment, it’s “heliosphere,” because the Voyager spacecraft just left it.

Which word do you hate?
“Shutdown,” as in governmental. Maybe “artisanal” and “bespoke” would be second and third.

If you could have any 5 dinner guests, dead or alive, who would they be?
Keith Richards, Moses, Emily Dickinson, Elvin Jones, and Mozart.

What word or phrase do you overuse?

What is the first book you remember reading?
Ever? It’d probably be Pippi Longstocking

Who are your literary heroes?
Too many to name. Faulkner, Emerson, Dickinson, Melville, Proust, Cheever, Marilynne Robinson, Thomas Mann, Henry James, Tolstoy, Tugenev...

Which books are you embarrassed to have never read?
"Crime and Punishment" and "The Brothers Karamazov."

If you could only recommend one book, which would it be?
"The Pentateuch."

Print book or e-book?
Print, no contest.

What, if anything, do you read while you're working on a project?
I read everything good I can get my hands on, all of the time, and unrepentantly put it in my own books. That’s what I think “literary fiction” means.

Do you have a favorite sentence from a book? What is it?
No favorite single sentence – or if there is one, it’s something ten pages long from Proust or Faulkner, probably.