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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Timbuktu (1999) by Paul Auster


Book Review
Timbuktu (1999)
 by Paul Auster

  Timbuktu is the book Paul Auster wrote from the POV of a dog,  Mr. Bones, the faithful companion of a colorful hobo who calls himself Willy G. Christmas, despite being the child of Jewish holocaust survivors.  Like every Auster novel except 4 3 2 1, Timbuktu is read and done in a blink- under 150 pages, I believe.   Timbuktu is one of the first books I've read with a major homeless character portrayed in a complex and sympathetic way.  Christmas is no stereotypical hobo.  During the course of Timbuktu it is revealed that he was once a promising Columbia University undergraduate, a roommate, in fact, of a writer named Paul Auster.  Experimentation with drugs leads to a psychotic break and a life time of wandering, interspersed with winters spent at the home of his long-suffering mother.

   It is hard to imagine this as a canonical title- any canon- since Auster is so prolific and already well represented due to his combination of Americanness, commercial viability and critical success.   No surprise that Timbuktu was dropped from the 2008 revision of 1001 Books.

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