I absolutely admire Paul Auster because whenever I pick up one of his books, I totally have no idea what to expect. You’ve surely noticed how some authors basically tell the same story over and over again? Not Auster. I’ve read quite a few of his works by now, and while he has similar themes delving into aspects of humanity, he delivers each and every one of said themes in a totally original and captivating manner.
Timbuktu is unlike anything I thought Auster capable of writing. Our narrator and protagonist is Mr. Bones, a through-and-through mutt owned by a delusional and kind-hearted vagabond named Willy. We see life through Mr. Bones’ eyes, and Auster does a magnificent job of breaking we humans down to our most essential characteristics. Mr. Bones sees life as it is, and sees us for who we are.
The story took a while to heat up because Willy proclaimed early on that death awaited him. The only problem was, while death certainly awaited him, I got irritated waiting for Willy to finally die so that Mr. Bones’ next step in life could begin. Once Willy headed for Timbuktu and Mr. Bones blazed a new trail in the world, I could hardly put the book down.
Again, I can hardly believe the man who wrote The New York Trilogy, an utterly experimental and complex work, also wrote Timbuktu, a short novel told to us from the experiences of a dog.
Auster is a true artist, a man willing to write whatever he wants despite externally imposed conventions, and I dare you to resist the warmth and charm of this story and Mr. Bones. Furthermore, I challenge you to keep a dry eye on the last page.