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Timbuktu a Novel by Paul Auster - A Book for a Dog-Lover

Timbuktu a Novel by Paul Auster - A Book for a Dog-Lover

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Published by: harryh778 on Oct 27, 2011
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Timbuktu: A Novel by Paul Auster

Mr Bones Oh My Word

In Timbuktu Paul Auster tackles homelessness in America using a dog as his point-of-view character. Strange as the premise seems, its been done before, in John Bergers 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 Bergers 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 Willys 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 readers 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 didnt 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 dogs 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

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring-it was peace. Milan Kundera Willy G. Christmas has spent his summers wondering the continent with his dog, Mr. Bones. But now Willy is dying and Mr. Bones is contemplating his existence. Mr. Bones knows a dog alone is no better than a dead dog and is dreading the fact that once Willy is no longer at his side, the world itself will cease to exist. I adore this book. The characterization is wonderful. I love Mr. Bones. I identified with his struggles to make it without his master-his feelings of loneliness, his confusion. Timbuktu is told from Mr. Bones point of view which allows this story to raise questions about existentialism as well as distinctions between metonymy (the animal standing for the human) and metaphor (the animal likened to the human). This book was so emotionally moving, its been hard for me to analyze it critically. I was entirely lost in Austers prose and the emotions I felt for Mr. Bones and with Mr. Bones. Timbuktu is just a very good story. Im suprised by the bad reviews of this book. Yes, Timbuktu is short. But there are only so many scenarios that can develop in the human-centered life of a dog. The experience of a dog is somewhat limited by the world people give them. Dogs rarely decide where they want to go. Dogs dont get to choose what they eat, where they live or who adopts them. A dog can only shape his destiny in one way-Mr. Bones eloquently and heart breakingly demonstrates this painful truth at the end of Austers novel. One of my favourite books of all time. Michael Vick should be made to read this book every day in prison. Very highly recommended.

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