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Timbuktu | [Paul Auster]

Timbuktu

Mr. Bones, the canine hero of this astonishing book, is the sidekick and confidant of Willy G. Christmas, a brilliant and troubled homeless man from Brooklyn. As Willy's body slowly expires, he sets off with Mr. Bones for Baltimore in search of his high-school English teacher and a new home for his companion. Mr. Bones is our witness during their journey, and out of his thoughts, Paul Auster has spun one of the richest, most compelling tales in American fiction.
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Publisher's Summary

Meet Mr. Bones, the canine hero of Paul Auster's remarkable novel, Timbuktu. Mr. Bones is the sidekick and confidant of Willy G. Christmas, the brilliant, troubled, and altogether original poet-saint from Brooklyn. Like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza before them, they sally forth on a last great adventure, heading for Baltimore, Maryland, in search of Willy's high school teacher, Bea Swanson. Years have passed since Willy last saw his beloved mentor, who knew him in his previous incarnation as William Gurevitch, the son of Polish war refugees. But is Mrs. Swanson still alive? And if she isn't, what will prevent Willy from vanishing into that other world known as Timbuktu?

Mr. Bones is our witness. Although he walks on four legs and cannot speak, he can think, and out of his thoughts Auster has spun one of the richest, most compelling tales in recent American fiction. By turns comic, poignant, and tragic, Timbuktu is above all a love story. Written with a scintillating verbal energy, it takes us into the heart of a singularly pure and passionate character, an unforgettable dog who has much to teach us about our own humanity.

This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.

©2000 Paul Auster; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"After reading Timbuktu, we ramble through our world with reawakened senses and newly alert minds. This is the Auster magic." (Paul Kafka, Boston Globe)

"A novel of haunted love whose themes loop around one another like glowing coils, connecting gracefully beneath Auster's clear prose, eliciting the fanciful and the tragic." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"[Timbuktu is] held aloft with audacity and brilliant, idiosyncratic language....It's risk-taking and brazen energy suggest a writer on the verge of an even more rewarding leap into the air of his own uncharted territory." (Chicago Tribune)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (20 )
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4.6 (7 )
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4.1 (8 )
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  •  
    Fiona Shipley, United Kingdom 20/01/2012
    Fiona Shipley, United Kingdom 20/01/2012 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    46
    4
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    "Beautiful"

    A great book for dog lovers & non-dog lovers. Not too sentimental but very touching & has humorous moments. I thoroughly enjoyed it

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-1 of 1 results
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  • Dubi
    New York, NY, United States
    10/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Should I Have Said Gehrig?"

    There's an old joke about a man taking a dog into a bar claiming his dog can talk. To prove it, he asks, "How is life?" Dog says, "Rough!" "What's over our head?" Dog says, 'Roof!" "Who's the greatest ballplayer ever?" Dog says, "Ruth!" The bartender throws them out. On the sidewalk, the dog turns to the man and says, "Should I have said Gehrig?" The joke works not only because we're surprised to learn the dog can really talk, but also because we know dogs respond to humans in other ways -- we buy into the the joke because it's perfectly reasonable for the dog to bark out answers that sound like "Ruff!" right on cue.

    Paul Auster's stock in trade in language. He is (rightly) not concerned with scientific rigor. So his main character, a dog named Mr. Bones, has a fluent understanding of English (almost fluent -- for some bizarre reason, he mangles the word English itself -- and he can't speak, only comprehend English). It's not that I'm unwilling to buy into this metaphor (although I do resent being told to do so within the text -- I can get it on my own). But as a longtime dog owner and lover, I would have found it far more interesting for Mr. Bones's understanding of humans to be based on reality -- empathy, emotion, body language, social hierarchy.

    Nevertheless, as a longtime dog owner and lover, I was thoroughly enjoying Auster's short novel through its midpoint, willing to suspend my disbelief over Mr. Bones's language skills. That's because the story, despite being told from the point of view of the dog, was about a man, his owner. It even made sense that he could understand what his owner was saying after lifelong companionship with him. Willy is an interesting character. I wanted to know more about how he came to be a lost soul, and I wanted to hear more of his rants, the high point of the book being the two extended rants Auster allows him to give us.

    I was also looking forward with anticipation to Willy locating his mentor, an English teacher, whom he hoped would care for Mr. Bones after his imminent death. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the story takes a wrong turn when Willy dies, leaving Mr. Bones to seek new owners on his own. I fully understand what Auster was doing by having Mr. Bones find owners who are the opposite of Willy. I just found it overly facile, and not nearly as interesting as Willy himself or the prospect of Mr. Bones (and me) meeting the English teacher.

    In short, like the talking dog who chose Ruth over Gehrig, Auster chose to pursue the wrong owners to take in Mr. Bones, abandoning Willy and his teacher.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Pamela Dale Foster
    Sykesville, MD
    28/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Man and Dog, Heart and Soul"

    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Timbuktu. The book told the story of Willy and Mr. Bones which was happy and sad. Willy went to an animal shelter and chose a dog who he trusted to grow up and become his protection. Mr. Bones was just a puppy when chosen by Willy and he grew to become much more to Willy then just his protector.

    Willy would go home to Brooklyn at times, to visit his mother but never stayed too long. The winter was a special time to go home because of the cold. Otherwise, he lived mostly on the streets of Brooklyn. There was a time he had to go to Baltimore, Maryland but he would need to get back to his home after he accomplished one task.

    Willy wasn't feeling too well and the other homeless people started to beat him up, take his belongings and his money. That was when he thought about getting Mr. Bones. I love the name that Willy chose for his dog. Mr. Bones tells the story, Timbuktu. That's because Willy would never stop talking and Mr. Bones knew everything about him.

    He told Mr. Bones about an English teacher who believed in him so very much. Her name was, Bea Meadows. She encouraged Willy to express himself through his writing. Willy had never had anyone who took an interest in him like Bea Meadows did.

    Willy earned a full scholarship to attend a college in California. His major was writing and poetry. Poetry was always his favorite.Unfortunately, in Willy's junior year, his thoughts and actions pointed to a mental breakdown. His mom was called.

    Willie went back home and his mom did get Willy help. He had schizophrenia which became evident when he talked to people who were not there, he would have delusions, hear voices and start getting angry and upset for no reason at all. Willy would take his medications sometimes and other times not.

    Willy's mom and dad escaped from Poland during WW11. They were so happy when Willy was born. They had great hopes for Willy. When Willy's dad passed away, his mom never lost hope for her Willy, never. She just could never figure out if Willy was better when on his medication or off.

    Sometimes, when Willy would begin to have a breakthrough of his schizophrenic behavior, Mr. Bones would patiently wait until he would finally slump against the building and he would cuddle up very close to Willy and put his head on his leg so that Willy would begin to stroke him and this would help to calm Willy. Mr. Bones loved to be stroked by Willy too. They loved each other so much, that Mr. Bones never left Willy's side and Willy would always watch out for Mr. Bones. He was Willy's best friend, like a marriage, when a couple would declare, until death do us part.

    The book Timbuktu, has left an imprint on my heart. I do enjoy reading about how animals can and do change someone's life. What would have happened to Mr. Bones if Willy had not went to the shelter that housed many other dogs too? The day Willy took Mr. Bones to his forever home, would have been Mr. Bones last day at the shelter. The narrator did a great job. The book was an easy listen and a short book. I was able to listen to it in one sitting. I would encourage other's to read Timbuktu. Timbuktu is actually a special place for Willy and Mr. Bones. There were many facets of life that evolved with the reading of, Timbuktu. The plot remained consistent throughout the book. However, be sure that this is your type of story you would be interested in before purchasing.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Eleanor Corner
    Edmonds, WA USA
    18/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dismal and depressing"
    What could Paul Auster have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    The character of the dog lacked authenticity. It would have been better had the author not imposed so many human attributes onto Mr Bones, e.g., dream content, conversations, capacity to predict outcomes of human relationships.


    What about Joe Barrett’s performance did you like?

    His narration was the only reason I gave the book three stars as he was believable, varied his pace appropriately, and matched the characters.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • BookReader
    Chicago, IL, United States
    13/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mr. Bones"
    Any additional comments?

    Timbuktu is just under six hours of listening, read by Joe Barrett. The story is written from the point of view of a dog, Mr. Bones. The dog is not a lovely Labrador Retriever, as pictured on the cover. Mr. Bones is a Heinz variety, of unknown heritage. That said, the story of a dog’s loyalty is a fun read (listen). The dog’s owner, Willie Christmas, of somewhat questionable character, is dying. The two converse … well, Mr. Bones ’thinks’, Willie talks. But, Mr. Bones understands pretty much everything said and has his own doggie interpretations. The tale progresses through Mr. Bones’ thoughts as he and Willie journey to Boston and someone Willie hopes will take care of Mr. Bones when the grim reaper calls. Any dog lover will get a bang out of this unique perspective. Got this audiobook via one of Audible.com’s Daily Deals. Enjoyed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Kazuhiko
    TUXEDO PARK, NY, United States
    11/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "You don't need to be a dog-lover to enjoy this one"

    Or, maybe it is easier for a non-dog-lover, like me (I own cats), to enjoy this book. The unrealistic premise that this dog fully understands the human language did not bother me once I got pulled into the story. The silly, tragic, depressing, wonderful, sad, and at times hopeful aspects of the complicated animal called human are depicted so naturally in this book. I am sorry that I did not know anything about this author till I listened to this book. So, I put a couple of his books on my wish list. The narrator was perfect for this too.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • GHBeckwith
    22/01/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "SAD SAD SAD!!! Not uplifting as I'd hoped."

    The writing was good, the few characters strongly developed (although depressing), the perspective from dog's-eye-view was powerful and worked well - but DANG I cried and cried all throughout this book. AND I REALLY HATED THE ENDING. But the narration was masterful - possibly why it made me cry so much.

    If you don't like lengthy philosophical rambling soliloquies about lifetheuniverseandeverything, you probably will not enjoy this book.

    If you have a super-soft spot for dogs, you will not enjoy several parts of this book.

    If you think it's silly for a book to be narrated by a dog, you will HATE this book. (But to you I say: why not let the dog narrate? Dogs are so much nicer, kinder, and more sensitive and loyal than people anyway.)

    The book made me think while I was listening to it, but overall it was just too sad for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Erik
    Sooke, British Columbia, Canada
    17/01/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "You'll Love it or Hate it"

    In reading other views, and thinking about the book afterward, I realized that you must read this book and form your own opinions. I don't think many will take a middle ground on this novel. You'll either love it or hate it.

    For myself, I wasn't really into it for the first half. The book seemed more about the dog's owner Willie, than about Mr. Bones (the dog). To top it off, Willie's monologues were the rantings of a madman, which is what he was. I understood the authors intent of showcasing the mentally ill and their challenges, but it seemed to go on too long.

    For the second half, it was more about the dog, as told through his thoughts and actions. This drew me in and eventually complemented the first half.

    While not a perfect work, I thought about the story for days afterward. This, in my mind, is a hallmark of a top notch novel.

    Joe Barrett did great job with all the voices, inflections, a cadences. I'll listen to him if afforded the opportunity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • BobbyLondonMedia
    15/01/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Perspective.."
    What would have made Timbuktu better?

    I couldn't finish..I'm a dog lover..Homeward Bound. If it were a bit more forgiving or exciting I ccould have stomached it.


    Would you recommend Timbuktu to your friends? Why or why not?

    No; Life's too short.


    Have you listened to any of Joe Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    It's full of heart.


    Any additional comments?

    Thank You- Keep writing.

    Very Sincerely and Respectfully,

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nancy
    United States
    05/01/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Doggeral"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A good enough story except for all all the stupid puns and word play.


    What was most disappointing about Paul Auster’s story?

    He had a really good premise and some good platforms to build it on, he just failed to tell it well.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Joe Barrett’s performances?

    Not sure. His voice is pleasant enough but he over-did the mushiness of old age and dogginess.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Timbuktu?

    The problem isn't with the scenes it's with the descriptions of the thought processes. But I would have cut "what is 'dog' backwards."


    Any additional comments?

    Too bad; it could have been so much better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Beth
    Salem, OR, United States
    04/01/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing"

    Wonderful touching story, I greatly enjoyed the book and found myself very moved by this story. Will look for more books from this author who writes with such a clear vision.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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