Timbuktu

Paul Auster, Author Henry Holt & Company $22 (181p) ISBN 978-0-8050-5407-1
The always surprising and astute Auster (New York Trilogy; Mr. Vertigo) wrings one of his most poignant, immediate novels from the mind of an intelligent mutt named Mr. Bones who faces the crisis of a lifetime in the death of his deranged master and best friend. Mr. Bones does not talk, but he understands even the ravings of Willy G. Christmas, a ""genuine, dyed-in-the-wool logomaniac"" who has dedicated his life to serving as the earthly manifestation of Santa Claus through sporadic acts of kindness--when he's not drinking, wandering or writing poems. Willy initially adopts Mr. Bones as a measure of protection from life in the streets. But the two form a much deeper bond as constant companions through travels all over the country and winters in Brooklyn. As the novel opens, Willy is coughing up blood, realizing that his days are numbered; he and Mr. Bones have embarked on a mission to Baltimore to deliver a suitcase full of Willy's writings to an old teacher. After death comes for Willy, he continues to appear in Mr. Bones's dreams from the afterlife the dog knows as ""Timbuktu."" Mr. Bones's new existence is frightening and strange as he finds himself involved with children and members of mainstream society more subtly and deeply disturbed than his dear old friend. In this brilliant novel, Auster writes with economy, precision and the quirky pathos of noir, addressing the pernicious ubiquity of American consumerism, the nature of love and the core riddles of ontology. Above all, though, this is the affecting tale of a special dog's place in the universe of humans and in the fleeting life of a special man. Agent, Carol Mann. 60,000 first printing; author tour. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/03/1999
Release date: 05/01/1999
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