It’s Always the Drummer, Pt. 4

May 14, 2023 § Leave a comment

Paul Harding won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his debut novel, Tinkers, published in 2009. A slim volume from Bellevue Literary Press with a humble design, it caught a lot of people in the book business by surprise; the New York Times had never bothered to review it before the announcement was made.

I hadn’t known anything about Harding’s career, so when I googled him, I initially thought I had landed on a different Paul Harding, because Google called him a musician. It turns out that Harding was the drummer for Cold Water Flat, a shoegazey band formed by three classmates at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I know that they got some airplay on WFNX in the 90s, particularly the song “Magnetic North Pole,” and I am pretty sure they opened for Belly once, a show I regretted missing at the time. (CWF’s lead singer was Paul Janovitz, brother of Buffalo Tom’s Bill Janovitz.)

So Paul Harding gets added to my library collection of Boston-area literary drummers, joining David Ryan (The Lemonheads, Animals in Motion), Freda Love Smith (The Blake Babies, Red Velvet Underground), and Chris Gorman (Belly, Indi Surfs).

I am halfway through Tinkers, a lovely story of remembrance about a son and his father. Harding’s descriptions of objects are made with the care of a museum curator.

Paul Janovitz passed away earlier this year.

Here’s “Magnetic North Pole”:


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