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Review: Timbuktu

April 30, 2009

Publisher: Faber and Faber

Paperback: 240

Paul Auster yet again delivers an engrossing read, this time using an effective form of defamilarization by having events unfold through the eyes of a dog.

It’s a love story, it’s a story about what happens when your love one dies. It’s a story about a small fish in a big lake. It’s about man and dog, that unspoken bond between canine and man (or woman). That unshakeable bond people can have with their pets. It’s joyful and sad.

We see human emotions; we see all these through the eyes of a dog, a dog called Mr. Bones. He’s suddenly, cruelly left in a world where he cannot communicate, cannot cope without his friend (I don’t call Willy G Christmas his master, they are equals in the novella). Where can he go? What is his purpose without his friend? These are the types of questions that arise. Yes, he is a dog but through him, we see emotions, the sense of loss, the sense of what now, become afresh.

The ending, while not horrifically sad it’s definitely not exuberant. It’s bittersweet. Mr. Bones cannot live without his friend, and while he could scrap by, day by day, he has no purpose without Willy G Christmas.

I’m not trying to make it out that this novella is perfect. It isn’t. The prose glides off the page but that’s Auster for you, however, I got slightly bored with it. I can see why it’s short, I don’t think I could have read more than what’s there.

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