Timbuktu; Leviathan; Moon Palace

ISBN: 2742741461
ISBN 13: 9782742741465
By: Paul Auster

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About this book

- See more at: http://www.faber.co.uk/catalog/timbuk...Meet Mr Bones, the canine hero of Paul Auster's remarkable novel. Bones is the sidekick of Willy G. Christmas, a brilliant but troubled poet-saint from Brooklyn. Together they sally forth to Baltimore, Maryland, on a last great adventure, searching for Willy's old teacher, Bea Swanson. Years have passed since Willy last saw his beloved mentor, who used to know him as William Gurevitch, son of Polish war refugees. But is Mrs Swanson still alive? And if not, what will prevent Willy from vanishing into that other world known as Timbuktu? - See more at: http://www.faber.co.uk/catalog/timbuk...

Reader's Thoughts


“Timbuktu” is the story of Willy G. Christmas and his dog, Mr. Bones. The tale is told from the dog’s perspective. He describes the life of Willy Christmas as they roam the streets of Baltimore searching for the home of Willy’s high school English teacher. Willy hopes to give Mr. Bones to his teacher, as he is dying and does not want to leave Mr. Bones to the streets. Willy is a mentally and emotionally troubled soul who has a history of mental illness and drug abuse. Mr. Bones is his only friend. As the tale unfolds, we explore the nature of the relationship of man and man’s best friend. Mr. Bones is forced to decide whether to follow his nature and remain loyal to Willy after his death or accept a new companion in order to survive. The story is, at its heart, an exploration in adaptation and growth.I found this book to be predictable and flat. The character names were trite and a constant reminder of the author’s lack of creativity. Although Auster uses a lot of sophisticated language to create depth in the narrative, he fails to develop depth of character and plot. This book is not appropriate for a younger reader because of the use of fowl language and drug references. I could only recommend it for a more mature reader who is looking for something accessible and not too thought provoking.


** spoiler alert ** Ante todo es una novela original, al mostrarnos los pensamientos de un perro, que además comprende el lenguaje humano. Comparando con la otra novela de Auster que he leído “El palacio de la luna”, ésta me parece mejor que Tombuctú, pero tiene algunos aspectos similares, como son los personajes y las historias excéntricas.Tiene 2 partes muy diferenciadas. En la 1ª cuenta su vida con su primer amo Willy, personaje estrafalario, poeta y vagabundo. Esta parte me parece más floja, se mezclan los pensamientos del perro, y las acciones, los delirios y las absurdas ideas de su amo. Lo mejor es el grado de amistad y compenetración que tienen ambos protagonistas. Otro de los aspectos que más me han gustado son los sueños del perro, en el primer sueño nos cuenta como es el final de Willy.En la última parte nos cuenta como es la vida de Mr. Bones en solitario buscando alguien como amo. El perro se da cuenta de otra vida distinta de la que había tenido, conoce el cariño de los niños, la vida familiar, las disputas familiares y las comodidades. Pero también echa de menos a su primer dueño, la libertad de su espíritu y el afán de aventuras de su juventud.Para los que tenemos perro, es una lectura muy curiosa al darnos unos hipotéticos pensamientos sobre las conductas humanas, y como tienen “calados” a los humanos con simplemente olernos. Refleja muy bien la novela la importancia del olfato, haciendo una metáfora fenomenal (esta metáfora la recuerdo de un documental sobre el comportamiento animal), al comparar los olores como si fuera un periódico, donde tiene información de todos los seres, humanos y animales. En definitiva, una buena novela con algunos altibajos, y con fragmentos interesantes.Mi nota: 6.

Simon Cleveland

Are you in the mood for something sentimental? How about a book on the sadness of a dog's existence? Paul Auster has taken a simple idea to a whole other level of reality and in the process has created a work that would transform human perception of the average canine awareness. Yet, I have to say the story was a bit much for me to swallow. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs (heck, I wrote `The Basenji Revelation' after all) and sometimes I wonder what they feel, think and dream. I had a dog and know for certain that it understood me (I hope not to the degree of Timbuktu's main character). But then the dog died and now I change the radio channel when I hear a sentimental melody which brings forth the memories of us walking together down the street (I still can't get over the fact that my dog suffered the heart condition that eventually killed it). Yes, I change the channel and quickly drain the pan of overflowing nostalgia, which is what I should have done long before reaching the final pages of Timbuktu (Well, what can I say, I love Mr. Auster's writing style). The story is written from the perspective of a dog by the name of Mr. Bones and follows up with its experiences as it looses one master, finds another, then a third, before it finally succumbs to the desire to escape the pain of its miserable, sickly existence in exchange for the chance to go Human Heaven called Timbuktu (Oh, the beauty of fiction). If you love dogs and have recently lost one, this book will warm up your heart and then perhaps help you with your grief (although I'm still angry at Fate for the loss of my little pooch).

Stephanie "Jedigal"

This didn't entirely work for me. It's told from the point of view of the dog, Mr. Bones, in third person. Mr. Bones' crazy original owner, Willy, spends the end of his life as somewhat of a hobo (yep, a hobo in modern America, sure we still have them), and dies apparently of a respiratory condition far from their 'home'. At least the first half of the book focuses mostly on Willy's eccentricities, and although we are seeing them from the dog's POV, it just seems that the book is "about" Willy all through that section. Then Willy dies, and we see what becomes of Mr. Bones. From this point on the story is more enjoyable for me. The ending, although sad, works well. And I agree that although Auster's dog is completely different from the more familiar Jack London style canine - it does reflect at least part of my experience of what a dog's consciousness and priorities might be like - the heart of a dog. I'm not sure Auster's purpose in the long beginning - I fear that he wanted to use Willy's character to make some points about our society through Willy - but it just seemed too much. And it didn't allow us to REALLY get to know Mr. Bones much, so I was JUST beginning to become attached to Mr. Bones as a character as the book is coming to a close. Still, this is a SHORT book, and I don't regret the time spent with it, just think it could have been better.

Lily So-too

I once read this novel by Paul Auster, perhaps 5 years ago.It was highly recommended by a great poet friend which to me has become part of the story because the recommendation felt like it was an inculcation to a mystical spell without which I would wander restlessly through eternity like I never wore my own skin. Reading Timbuktu did turn out to be exactly that necessary and urgent and I am grateful to Richard for forcing its presence into my consciousness.I loved it(as far as I can love a novel). It opens a doorway into the life of an equally compassionate and disenfranchised man named Willy G. Christmas who happens to be homeless. The story is told through the eyes of someone who is completely in love with him and cannot see nor understand every aspect of his disconnect with reality and humanity. This creature, also a misfit in human society is the only narrator who could do justice to the as yet unrevealed(unreveled) humanity in Willy G., because of the ardency with which he loves his friend.To my mind, this is a novel about a love so giant that even the most difficult circumstances can't kill the love. Yes, when the troubling times come, Willy G. Christmas' best friend actually does doubt in him, does doubt in his sanity and his goodness, does wonder why he loves Willy so much. Why is it so important to recognize this epic struggle with love over a homeless man who almost no-one in this(type of) culture would value?I believe that this book is fundamentally asking the questions of why we value some people and some animals more highly than others. I believe that this book is a devastating exploration of hierarchical valuation, told in the form of a pleasant and oft hilarious parable about a man and his dog. That the story is told through the loving eyes of a dog(be this accurate or not about what dogs really see in entirety)is necessary. Even Willy G. Christmas' mother does not love him but of course, his dog does.I've probably made the book sound far more depressing and far less exciting and interesting than it is. It so happens that the adventures of these misfits are gut-belchingly tragicomic, causing me to remember the experience of the book as one which caused me to laugh until I cried, mainly. It also caused me to further travel into my experience of who matters to me and why, it caused me to consider questions of image, beauty, sanity, intelligence, communication skills and unpasteurized imagination as a landscape of places in which i might or might not value the life of another who lives beside me(or underneath or above me) on this planet while I live. Although I already had the proclivity to have these questions when I began the book, I found the experience of feeling the questions while reading Timbuktu, deeply satiating.As a reader, I've not often found a writer who asks me from where my love for people arises nor where it goes, in the form of a story about a person(and a dog)who most people would ignore the existence of out of fear that we too would become unloved and unwanted. The questions of dispossession which Auster wrestles with in this work are lovely, as would be stars, buried in a sky of dirt. What has grown in me from this seeding is a greater capacity to recognize and value life on earth in all of its myriad forms.I also want to make a note here about the fluid, ridiculous chain of events which could only make sense if you had been there for each one, as a style of communicating these life questions about who is worthy of love or attention. In this manner anyone who enters the vortex of the book with an understanding that life will continue to shift unpredictably, based on a necessary revision of "what we know" has the capacity to personalize this difficult set of experiences and therefore have compassion for them. Auster normalizes the non-normal experiences of his characters, displaying his own broad sweep of human compassion, through setting a contextual tone which is endemic to the every day rhythms of living.

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

I failed to connect with this book not because it isn't well-written (it is) or it has a boring story (the story is interesting, unique and with a bittersweet ending). Paul Auster wrote this novel from the point of view of a dog (named Mr. Bones) and if you are a dog-lover, reading this can make you cry at some points.The problem (with me), however, is that I also love dogs. I love to eat them. My parents were both hunters (when I was young). With his gun, my father would come home with exotic catch like birds, bats, monitor lizards, etc. which my mother would turn into delicious dishes (even small birds, for instance, she'll chop into little pieces--bones and all--and turn into her version of ). While mother was a stay-at-home mom, she also knew how to "hunt." She would trap stray dogs at the ground floor of the house where we lived and butcher them. Then we'll have a feast of dog meat (my favorite) and (for the skin). I watch her and her helpers expertly tie up the dog, smash its skull, burn it whole in a skewer to remove its hair and body ticks, then open it up with sharp knives.This was when we transferred to the province many years ago. When we were still living in the city, however, we had a pet dog. My parents didn't know what to do with it after they've decided to live in the province as bus operators (then and now) wouldn't agree to take animals aboard their vehicles (we didn't have a car then). What my parents did, therefore, was to butcher our pet, turn it into a big of which we took with us on our trip towards our new home.I'm sure that dog is now in Timbuktu (the dog heaven).

Jose Vera

El libro narra la historia de Mister Bones, un perro chusco que entiende el idioma inglés a la perfección; aunque no puede hablarlo y hay conceptos puntuales que se le escapan.Mister Bones es el compañero de Willy G. Christmas; un vagabundo con problemas mentales, poeta desconocido y un moribundo que perdió la oportunidad de ser un escritor famoso; o en todo caso medianamente famoso.Auster escribe este libro desde el punto de vista de Mister Bones, como es que este perrito observa el mundo y los cambios que se van dando en su vida. La historia se inicia con las últimas horas de Willy; los sentimientos de Mister Bones al respecto, como encara la muerte de su amo y único amigo desde que es un cachorro casi ciego.Mister Bones luego pasa por dos amos mas, Henry Chow y la familia Jones, cada una con su dosis de aventuras y desventuras, siempre desde el punto de vista de un perro vagabundo.Auster logra atrapar con esta historia fácilmente, la narración fluye sin tropiezos y las descripciones te llevan de la mano de un sótano maloliente donde Willy esta creando su "sinfonía de olores" a un bosque casi paradisíaco donde Mister Bones es una pieza crucial en un juego de tensiones familiares.Sin embargo, lo más saltante de este libro es la propia actitud de Mister Bones; Auster logra plasmar a lo largo de todo el libro lo que ha un perro lo hace el mejor amigo del hombre; el amor incondicional y la empatía por sus amos. A cada encuentro, en cada familia con la que vive; Mister Bones es el retrato perfecto de un perro fiel que sólo desea agradar a sus amos y ser feliz con ellos.Es un libro que merece ser leido y disfrutado de inicio a fin; es la odisea de Mister Bones para llegar a aquel lugar donde va estar con Willy, es el viaje de Mister Bones a Tomboctú.


Loved this book. As a "special" dog-lover myself, this book attributes all of the thoughts, feelings, heart and hope that I like to think dogs possess as well. Mr bones is a great character. Take away the fact that he is a dog, and you've probably never reads about somone who is so "good" and loyal.Will now be a favoriote of mine to recommend to any dog-person.


I enjoyed this short novel quite a bit. The narrator is Mr. Bones, the canine companion of a homeless man named Willy G. Christmas. I found Mr. Bones to be a much more engaging character than Willy, so the first half of the book, which is heavy on background re: Willy G. Christmas, was a bit slow for me.I'm glad I stuck with it though, because this book is well-written and has a simple poignancy to it. I can't really articulate in shorthand what I enjoyed about the book, but it was a refreshing change of perspective, well-written, and I read it in what amounted to about a day. Definitely worth the few hours of your time it takes to read it.


At its worst, this almost-novella is a prolonged and sorrowful swan song and existential meditation. At its peak, it is a radical exercise in stream-of-consiousness narration. Although reminiscent of Virginia Woolf at her most coherent, it is a relief to have a book that does not require trips to the faithful dictionary. Gratefully, this work is not rife with pretentions-galore (a-la "Book of Illusions" which is thankfully off the 1001 Best Books List) and has the imagination and sense of wonderment/awe that a work like this would demand. The whole book in POV of a dog-- there are moments when you think the author will fail, and the time seems impending, though it never comes. Auster succeeds in telling a sad, simple, organic tale of the universal connection that makes everyone part of the biological Brotherhood. Even dogs with men, and even a dog's innermost psyche has substantial clout in the real world.

Will Byrnes

** spoiler alert ** Mr. Bones is living a dog’s life. He is almost a peer to his master Willy G. Christmas. Willy is a kind-hearted, but damaged man, a child of holocaust survivors. Given to delusions, and writing poetry, he is homeless and in failing health. The road trip here is a walking journey to Baltimore, home to Bea Swanson, beloved high school teacher. He wants to offer to her his mass of unpublished writings, and to find Mr. Bones a home before his swan song. According to Willy, on the other side of death lies Timbuktu, a place where everything is wonderful. The story is told in the third person omniscient, but really we are seeing the world through the eyes of Mr. Bones. Bones is not your typical dog. Although he lives in a world of scent and likes his bit of tail, he is a thoughtful critter. He is doggedly loyal to Willy, staying with him to the end. Auster takes things a bit beyond, as he likes to do. Bones not only thinks like a person, he dreams like one. Maybe his dreams are more like detailed premonitions. In one he transforms into an insect, then flies along with an ambulance to the hospital where Willy ultimately passes.Willy does pass on, so Bones has to make his way in the world alone. He tries hunting with minimal success, finds a meal ticket via a lonely Chinese boy named Henry Chow. The boy is afflicted with a father who hates dogs, and, most unsettling to Bones, he lives above a Chinese restaurant. He heads for the hills after dad finds out, and finds his way into a nice suburban home. The mom, Polly, and her young daughter, Alice, love him, as does the little boy, Tiger. But the home is not entirely happy and dad, Dick, is not thrilled about having a hairy animal around his pristine home. Even though his life has moved on, Bones is still visited in his dreams by the love of his life, Willy, and by the story’s end, he is facing his own demise. Can dogs be admitted to Timbuktu as well as people?This may sound like a grim tale. It is not. It is a character portrait, of a dog and his man. A love story, with commentary on poetry, dreams, artistic ambitions, identity, what is important in life, with some observations about life in general and people in particular. I remain perplexed by the odd item or two, but this was an engaging, enjoyable read. Good book, good book, good.


Auster's "Timbuktu" sat on my shelf for years and I'm not really sure why. Once I picked it up I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable read.The novel chronicles the last months of the life of Mr. Bones, a dog with quite amazing insight into not just other dogs, but into the emotional drives of the various people he encounters. At its heart, "Timbuktu" is a parable about loyalty and true unrequited love - told most poignantly in the stark distinction between Mr. Bone's love for Willy and Polly's lack of a real connection with her husband. Auster's use of that foil technique is quite well done and not at all heavy-handed.Although Auster's written word in "Timbuktu" is sparse and simple, there are many moments of brilliance (even though spoken by a dog!). His chronicling of Mr. Bone's every move is so well-done that any dog-owner, or any canine observer, will nod their head in wonder at how he so poignantly captures the exact motions and mannerisms of the mutt.And you must love a book that ends by both making you want to cheer and to cry.


Using third-person omniscient narrative voice but through a point of view of a dog Auster gives us an account of a personal tragedy of a dying vagabond schizophrenic poet Willy G. Christmas and his only friend and confidant Mr Bones, his old faithful.The novella opens with Willy's imminent death and a struggle to find his old schoolteacher to entrust her with his writing and to ask her to find Bones a new home.None of his efforts, however, yields success; Willy passes on leaving Bones on his own.In this both funny and heartbreaking story we see Bones wandering about streets, change homes, adopting new owners.Auster's honest and authentic doggy's voice offers a sharp depiction of society, its cruelty and hypocrisy.It is a masterfully written fable that reads like a social drama where dog is really the underdog, a happy family a utopia, and true friends a rare commodity. Will Bones trade his freedom for a comfort of a home or join Willy in Timbuktu “Where the map of this world ends, that's where the map of Timbuktu begins”?I enclose a passage from the book that tickled my linguistic appetite: “Mr. Bones understood. He always understood what Willy said to him. This had been the case for as long as he could remember, and by now his grasp of Ingloosh was as good as any other immigrant who had spent seven years on American soil. It was his second language, of course, and quite different from the one his mother had taught him, but even though his pronunciation left something to be desired, he had thoroughly mastered the ins and outs of its syntax and, grammar.”


On the surface this an episode—well, maybe three episodes—of The Littlest Hobo or something of that ilk only it’s been written by Paul Auster so it has to have a twist. And the twist comes mostly through the dreams Mister Bones—great name for a dog—has (or, in one case, a dream within a dream or it might’ve been a vision within a dream … may have to read that bit again). The dog understands English fairly well—apparently all dogs do and if only their jaws were wired differently we’d be living in a very different world—but being unable to ask questions sometimes his ideas are a bit off the mark. It doesn’t help that his owner has had an epiphany/breakdown, renounced his Jewish roots, changed his name from William Gurevitch to Willy G. Christmas and become—for most of the year at least (he winters with his long-suffering mother) a vagabond determined to do good wherever and whenever he can. Mister Bones is devoted to him. Several years on, which is where the book takes up the story, Willy is not a well man. In fact Mister Bones fully expects this to be his last day on earth. But he has one last job to get done, if only he can muster the strength: find his old schoolteacher Mrs. Swanson and hand over his dog to her. As the day goes on the chances of him doing that get ever remoter and Mister Bones reconciles himself to having to go it alone. Which is what happens. And he ends up attaching himself to two other people before we get to the end of the book, hence the feeling it’s like The Littlest Hobo.What sets the book apart, of course, is the writing, especially in the first section. We’re used to getting inside the heads of animals—e.g. Look Who’s Talking Now—so there’s nothing new there and Auster does a good job with the character of Mister Bones but the real delight is Willy especially when he goes off on a rant that lasts several pages and all I could think as I was reading it was that it must’ve been so much fun to write and if the book is ever filmed whoever gets to play Willy will have a ball with that monologue; it was practically worth the price of admission alone. A small extract:That’s American know-how for you. It keeps coming at you, and every minute there’s new junk to push out the old junk. You’d think we would have caught on by now, wised up to the tricks they pull on us, but people can’t get enough of it. They cheer, they wave flags, they hire marching bands. Yes, yes, wondrous things, miraculous things, machines to stagger the imagination, but let us not forget, no, let us not forget that we are not alone in this world. Know-how knows no borders, and when you think of the bounty that pours in from across the seas, it knocks you down a peg or two and puts you in your place. I don’t just mean obvious things like turkeys from Turkey or chili from Chile. I also mean pants from France. I mean pain from Spain and pity from Italy and checks from Czechoslovakia and fleece from Greece. Patriotism has its role, but in the long run it’s a sentiment best kept under wraps. Yes, we Yanks have given the world the zipper and the Zippo, not to speak of zip-a-dee doo-dah and Zeppo Marx, but we’re also responsible for the H-bomb and the hula hoop. It all balances out in the end, doesn’t it? Just when you think you’re top gun, you wind up as bottom dog. And I don’t mean you, Mr. Bones. Dog as metaphor, if you catch my drift, dog as emblem of the downtrodden, and you’re no trope, my boy, you’re as real as they come. It has apparently been adapted for the stage.The book’s title comes from Willy’s concept of heaven:“Where the map of this world ends, that’s where the map of Timbuktu begins.” In order to get there, you apparently had to walk across an immense kingdom of sand and heat, a realm of eternal nothingness. It struck Mr. Bones as a most difficult and unpleasant journey, but Willy assured him that it wasn’t, that it took no more than a blink of an eye to cover the whole distance. And once you were there, he said, once you had crossed the boundaries of that refuge, you no longer had to worry about eating food or sleeping at night or emptying your bladder. You were at one with the universe, a speck of antimatter lodged in the brain of God. Mr. Bones had trouble imagining what life would be like in such a place, but Willy talked about it with such longing, with such pangs of tenderness reverberating in his voice, that the dog eventually gave up his qualms. Tim-buk-tu. By now, even the sound of the word was enough to make him happy. The big question though is: Do dogs go to … well, Timbuktu?Once Willy and the dog part company the tone of the book changes and no one he meets is really able to fill Willy’s shoes. Thankfully for him—and for the reader too since Willy is by far the most interesting character in the book—his master appears to him in several dreams, dreams in which Mr Bones can talk and ask some of the all-important questions he couldn’t ask in the real world.You could read this book to your kids and they’d enjoy it but they’d also miss so much. It’s not a children’s book but it does feel like one quite a lot of the time—I guess that’s inevitable when you write from a dog’s perspective—but there’s a lot more happening here. All the ontological stuff will go whoosh! over the heads of the kids and also the sly commentary on the divisive nature of the USA. The good thing is that this is a book you could read as a twelve-year-old and enjoy and then pick up in your thirties and enjoy all over again. It’s Auster-lite and it’s nice to see he has a light side.


در مقایسه با کتاب های دیگر آستر مثل سه گانه ی نیویورک، کشور آخرین ها و هیولا این کتاب به یک شوخی تینیجری شبیه بود. نمیدانم جایی خواندم یا از کسی شنیدم که آستر این داستان را برای دختر(یا پسر) خودش وقتی که سگ خانواده آستر(اسپارکی) در حال مرگ بوده نوشته و با توجه به اینکه در سه گانه هم قبلا از آستر این رفتار دیده شده بعید بنظر نمی رسد که حقیقت داشته باشد. در آنجا هم نویسنده، خودش و خانواده اش (البته به همراه سگ خانواده) را به نحوی وارد داستان می کند که برخواسته از دید پست مدرن آستر است. .تیمبوکتو اگر نام آستر را نداشت کمتر خوانده می شد و مسلما از کارهای خوب او نیستنکته این جاست که چرا این کتاب بعد از چاپ دوم( نشر افق) از پیشخوان کتابفروشی ها جمع شد و تجدید چاپ آن توسط وزارت ارشاد متوقف شد؟!!! ما که نفهمیدیم

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