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Timbuktu by Paul Auster

Timbuktu (original 1999; edition 2000)

by Paul Auster

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1,873483,692 (3.57)141
Authors:Paul Auster
Info:Faber and Faber (2000), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:1001 book, bookcrossed: released, dogs, life

Work details

Timbuktu by Paul Auster (1999)

  1. 30
    Firmin by Sam Savage (sanddancer)
    sanddancer: Both quirky, but not too cutesy stories told from the perspective of animals.
  2. 10
    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 (42)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
I found it entertaining to have a dog narrate this story. I was exposed to this different author because this book is a "book of the month" for a group on GoodReads.com that I belong to. The characters were believable and the plot was simple. There were some true emotions expressed in the book. The story allowed the reader to think about life as the story unfolded. I thought this was great writing done with just the right amount of details. ( )
  BrendaKlaassen | Sep 18, 2015 |
*SIGH* ( )
  MsNick | Aug 13, 2015 |
An amazing thing about this book (in the UK Faber & Faber hardcover, at least):

The turning point in the story happens a couple of pages before the middle of the book. But the thing that is happening on the exact middle page also happens on the last page. ( )
  andrewlorien | Mar 13, 2015 |
"Timbuktu was originally conceived as a much longer book. Willy and Mr. Bones were supposed to have no more than minor, fleeting roles in it, but once I started writing the first chapter, I fell in love with them and decided to scrap my plan. The project turned into a short lyrical book about the two of them with scarcely any plot." - Paul Auster ( )
  Livux | Feb 21, 2015 |
Short, sweet and typical of Auster, this novella introduces a novel narrator, the dog. Whilst this certainly allows for some original perspective, it unfortunately has one leg on either side of the fence of reality. One the one hand we want to believe all that the dog is telling us, but on the other hand we know we can't.
After a dense and somewhat choppy start, the narrative zips along quickly (so quickly, one assumes, that the proof reader missed a glaring mistake in the first paperback edition, tsk-tsk) bringing us to a somewhat tense ending. Even on the penultimate page I found myself questioning the outcome with a sense of pure futility.
Rich in language and referents, less so in reality and canine understanding, this has all the airs of a "get it done and dusted" project. And this is what I have always admired in Auster, his relentless pursuit of an ending. ( )
  villemel | Feb 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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for Robert McCrum
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:45 -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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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