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Timbuktu by Paul Auster

Timbuktu (original 1999; edition 2000)

by Paul Auster

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,960513,469 (3.58)148
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 (45)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All (51)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
English literature counts a large number of novels in which the main protagonist is an animal, notably dogs and donkeys. Timbuktu is Paul Auster's contribution to the genre. When I first read Auster, in the early 90s, I immediately became hooked to this extraordinary author. I loved The Red Notebook, and as a student of German Expressionism, came to love Auster's New York trilogy, and subsequent absurd novels which often reminded me of Kafka's America. However, as time progressed, it seemed to me that publishers were exploiting this wonderful author, pushing hard to churn out as much profit as possible in the shortest possible time, as if there would be no tomorrow, exemplified by re-issues and collections of work which might as well be left unpublished, or in the case of other authors often is found in posthumous publications (speaking of Hand to Mouth). Timbuktu seems the product of such haste and pressure. A stilistically untypical work, of limited scope and very little interest. I almost lost interest in Auster, and the book remained unread on my shelves for many years. Although I think his most recent work is of a higher level again, though not as sublime as his early work, Timbuktu is disappointing. It left absolutely no impression on me. ( )
  edwinbcn | Jul 5, 2017 |
A melancholic story, more of a children's tale with some raw edges. Well written, emphatic, moving. ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
Timbuktu is a sweet little story. It diverted me on a train journey and gave me things to think about. It's about the relationship between a dog and his dying master and how the dog copes when his master dies. It's full of reflections on love, life and how to live to the best of your ability.

It was quite slight, though, and that's what kept this as good, rather than great. ( )
  missizicks | Nov 14, 2016 |
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 |

P.S. This was flagged as "Not a review." I review books for myself much of the time. My one word summed up how I felt about this book - there were no words for me to better express myself in this case. ( )
  MsNick | Aug 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paul Austerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Goschke, JuliaIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This version with Julia Goschke is a highly adapted illustrated edition which should not be combined with the novel Timbuktu.
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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 4 descriptions

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