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Timbuktu by Paul Auster

Timbuktu (original 1999; edition 2008)

by Paul Auster (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,072564,718 (3.58)154
Authors:Paul Auster (Author)
Info:Faber & Faber (2008), Edition: Main, 192 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction
Tags:1001 Books

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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» See also 154 mentions

English (49)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
I should clarify that the three star rating is comparing Timbuktu to other works by Paul Auster. I've often said that mediocre Auster is better than most author's greatest. If I were comparing it across the board, I'd give it a four. I'm sure it would be higher if I were a dog person, but I'm really not. ( )
  eclecticheart | Dec 10, 2018 |
Just a tad dull. Often clunky writing style, felt like it needed an edit. The ending had pathos, but the rest felt half-baked. ( )
  sometimeunderwater | Nov 8, 2018 |
I can't remember the last time I cried while reading, but I was in tears by the end of "Timbuktu." This is why I love dogs.

One last great adventure. I'm ready. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
Timbuktu is a small morsel of a book, appetizing enough, and short enough not to dislike. But the morsel isn't fulfilling or mindblowing. That being said, the story is good, and the POV is one you don't get in most books. ( )
  JaredOrlando | Aug 14, 2018 |
“But that was the beauty of this particular game. The moment you lost, you won.”

As a dog lover, I'm probably biased, but this short novel was a pleasant surprise. Despite it being a simple and accesible prose (told mostly through the eyes of Mr Bones), it doesn't resort to cheap melodrama to elicit a certain sadness in the reader. As a side note, even though Willy is widely present throughout the book, I would have liked to see more interaction between him and Mr Bones.

Puede que no sea la persona más objetiva a la hora de valorar esta novela corta, pero ha sido una grata sorpresa. Es una prosa fácil y accesible, narrada en tercera persona a través de los ojos de Mr. Bones, que no recurre al sentimentalismo barato para conseguir una lágrima fácil. Aunque Willy está presente en casi todo el libro, he echado en falta un poco más de interacción entre ellos. ( )
  thebooksaurus | Oct 4, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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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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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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