Tanya Ward Goodman

LEAVING TINKERTOWN (University of New Mexico Press)

CoverLEAVING_TINKERTOWNTanya Ward Goodman’s father painted carnival signs for a living and raised his family in Tinkertown Museum, a roadside attraction in rural New Mexico whose walls were made of beer bottles.  When he was diagnosed in his 50s with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Goodman gave up her writing career and a new love in Los Angeles to move back home, only to become more and more unmoored as her father’s memory grew hazy.  Being her father’s daughter was what she did best; when he inevitably forgot her name, who would she be?  Her memoir, LEAVING TINKERTOWN, is an account both humorous and heart-wrenching of the ways that loss reshaped her eccentric family and propelled her to realize that her place in the world lay outside “the museum.”


“Tanya Ward Goodman, writing with a big heart, clear eyes, and a light touch, allows us a privileged glimpse into the shabby, enchanted world of traveling carnivals, roadside attractions, and a beloved, eccentric father’s descent into Alzheimers. Just as her dad animated the handcarved, miniature western world of Tinkertown from coat hangers, inner tubes and old sewing machine motors, Tanya Ward Goodman has fashioned her complex and often hilarious memories into a beguiling, wry, and moving work of art.” — Michelle Huneven, author of Blame

“Tanya Ward Goodman has written a book full of light and love, about a thoroughly modern family who find unique connections amid complicated loss.  This book is not just a testimony to the influence of the larger-than-life father whose existence — and illness — power the narrative, it is also a statement about the luminous presence that same man leaves behind in all those he loved and who loved him.  Leaving Tinkertown teaches us about devotion, loyalty and inheritance, and all their profoundest truths.” —Vicki Forman, author of This Lovely Life, winner of the PEN Center Award for Creative Nonfiction and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Prize.

"A moving story about a father and daughter, both artists who created something special out of imagination and love. Ross Ward left us his magical world of Tinkertown. And Tanya Ward Goodman has given us this beautiful book." —David Ebershoff, author of The 19th Wife