Steve's Reviews > Timothy, or Notes of an Abject Reptile

Timothy, or Notes of an Abject Reptile by Verlyn Klinkenborg
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's review
Apr 17, 10

it was amazing
bookshelves: novels, nature
Read in April, 2010, read count: 2

It took a while to settle into Timothy's chelonian voice, because my first thought was that a tortoise's narration should be slow and unwinding. But as Timothy's personality emerged, her direct, deliberate sentences and the way she take the world in one specific observation at a time made that voice perfect and inevitable. Klinkenborg takes the traditional naturalist's method of making order of the world through observation over time, looking for systems and secrets in all that occurs, and turns that method on its head by giving it to a character with an unfamiliar (to humans) sense of time and mortality. That creates a gentle but stinging critique of the shortsighted hypocrisies through which humans observe and imagine animals, and also of the way we tell stories -- what counts as worth telling is very different when you see the world from a different angle and at a slower pace. So while I began with some readerly anxieties about what the "story" was here, once I settled into Timothy's voice that became an irrelevant question, and I was immersed in life on her terms and low to the ground.
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