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Timbuktu by Paul Auster
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Timbuktu (1999)

by Paul Auster

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1,767423,983 (3.58)127
  1. 30
    Firmin by Sam Savage (sanddancer)
    sanddancer: Both quirky, but not too cutesy stories told from the perspective of animals.
  2. 00
    The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (dogearsbooks)
    dogearsbooks: Another story from the dog's perspective, this is a laugh-and-cry festival and very satisfying.
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English (36)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Mr. Bones believes that Timbuktu is where you go when you die. He picked this up from his longtime companion—a wandering street poet named Willy G. Christmas. W.G. Christmas may have the soul of a poet and sport a fabulous tattoo of Santa Claus, but the life he shares with his friend is never easy.

This short book gets down, down to around a dog's height, as Mr. Bones is a mutt. In Timbuktu, Paul Auster looks through a dog's eyes to give the reader a completely different perspective from which to see life. The clean, sparse writing compliments perfectly the simpler life that our main character leads in his dog world. The needs and the confusions of life are much different for a dog, yet our species share many of the same desires. If everyone read Timbuktu, fewer people would want to be treated like dogs. This is a special little book that won't take anyone long to read, but most will remember it for a long time. ( )
  jphamilton | Jul 27, 2014 |
3.75 stars

Mr. Bones is a dog whose master is Willy, a homeless man. Mr. Bones remembers when he and Willy lived with Willy's mom till she died, then they were living on the streets. Willy is dying and wants to find his high school English teacher, so Mr. Bones and Willy set out to try to find her. The story is told from Mr. Bones' point of view.

A lot of the first half is Mr. Bones remembering various things about Willy's life, and unfortunately, I found Willy boring. However, the book really picked up for me in the second half, and I really enjoyed that part of the book. I did, of course, love that the book is told from the dog's point of view. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jul 8, 2014 |
Timbuktu is a 1999 novella by Paul Auster. It is about the life of a dog, Mr Bones, who is struggling to come to terms with the fact that his homeless master, Willy Christmas is dying. The story is set in the 90s. The title comes from the name Willy has given to the afterlife and Mr. Bones is afraid that he won’t be able to go to Timbuktu to be with Willy.

My thoughts: The story is told from Mr. Bones perspective. It is the second book this year, having read Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein last December that is written from the dogs perspective. This one is similar in that both dogs are contemplating existential themes of the afterlife. Mr. Bones regrets that Willy didn’t teach him to read, Enzo wanted thumbs. Both dogs do a lot of thinking but Mr. Bone uses words like “peripatetic”. Now I have dogs and I believe they do learn a lot of human language as they live with us but I don’t believe they learn words like peripatetic. When you read Auster, at least in my experience so far, you know the ending isn’t going to be a feel good ending. I felt so bad that Mr. Bones was going to be abandoned in a strange town with no friends when Willy dies but the rest of the story loses my sympathy. It really goes on with the difficulties of adjusting to new families and the loss of Willy. The ending, and I won’t give it away, but it is an Auster ending.

Quotes that I liked:
“Even now, as I enter the valley of the shadow of death, my thoughts bog down in the gunk of yore. There’s the rub, signore. All this clutter in my head, this dust and bric-a-brac, these useless knickknacks spilling off the shelves.”

References to memory-- “wallpaper, background music, zeitgeist dust on the furniture of the mind”. ( )
  Kristelh | Feb 23, 2014 |
A dog book: need I say more? It is to cry. Mr. Bones is the thinking, talking dog. He only wished his master had taught him how to write! Just heart wrenching. Will stay in my heart forever. ( )
  froxgirl | Nov 2, 2013 |
i was definitely not crazy about the first third of the book, and i didn't like how he either beat you over the head with his message, or let it drop too soon. i liked it better as it went along, but never really was thrilled. for the first half or so, i was wishing it had been written by tom robbins. it was a quick and relatively enjoyable read, though, and it does give you things to think about, even if it could be better. (but of course i absolutely loved the bit about cal ripken, jr, my childhood hero.) ( )
  elisa.saphier | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Mr. Bones knew that Willy wasn't long for this world.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312263996, Paperback)

In Timbuktu Paul Auster tackles homelessness in America using a dog as his point-of-view character. Strange as the premise seems, it's been done before, in John Berger's King, and it actually works. Filtering the homeless experience through the relentlessly unsentimental eye of a dog, both writers avoid miring their tales in an excess of melodrama. Whereas Berger's book skips among several characters, Timbuktu remains tightly focused on just two: Mr. Bones, "a mutt of no particular worth or distinction," and his master, Willy G. Christmas, a middle-aged schizophrenic who has been on the streets since the death of his mother four years before. The novel begins with Willy and Mr. Bones in Baltimore searching for a former high school English teacher who had encouraged the teenage Willy's writerly aspirations. Now Willy is dying and anxious to find a home for both his dog and the multitude of manuscripts he has stashed in a Greyhound bus terminal. "Willy had written the last sentence he would ever write, and there were no more than a few ticks left in the clock. The words in the locker were all he had to show for himself. If the words vanished, it would be as if he had never lived."

Paul Auster is a cerebral writer, preferring to get to his reader's gut through the brain. When Willy dies, he goes out on a sea of words; as for Mr. Bones, this is a dog who can think about metaphysical issues such as the afterlife--referred to by Willy as "Timbuktu":

What if no pets were allowed? It didn't seem possible, and yet Mr. Bones had lived long enough to know that anything was possible, that impossible things happened all the time. Perhaps this was one of them, and in that perhaps hung a thousand dreads and agonies, an unthinkable horror that gripped him every time he thought about it.
Once Willy dies and Mr. Bones is on his own, things go from bad to worse as the now masterless dog faces a series of betrayals, rejections, and disappointments. By stepping inside a dog's skin, Auster is able to comment on human cruelties and infrequent kindnesses from a unique world view. But reader be warned: the world in Timbuktu is a bleak one, and even the occasional moments of grace are short lived. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:41 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A friendship between a man and a dog, told from the dog's point of view. The dog understands English and he knows his alcoholic master is a little crazy, but he is a tolerant sort. When the master dies the dog sets out to find a new one.

» see all 4 descriptions

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