Excerpt from Timothy by Verlyn Klinkenborg, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


Notes of an Abject Reptile

by Verlyn Klinkenborg

Timothy by Verlyn Klinkenborg X
Timothy by Verlyn Klinkenborg
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2006, 192 pages

    Jan 2007, 192 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

I was gone for more than a week before they found me. A rustling in the bean-field, heavy steps nearby. A shout--the boy's voice--more shouts. Thomas catches me up in his hands with sickening haste. I weigh six pounds thirteen ounces. He lifts me as though I weigh nothing at all.

Ground breaks away. May wind shivers in my ears. My legs churn the sky on their own. I look down on bean-tops. Down on the blunt ends of sheep-bitten grasses. Over one field, into the next, into the hop-garden beyond. Past thatch and tiles, past maypole, past gilded cock on the church tower. All in my eye, all at once. So far to see.

Goody Hammond and Daniel Wheeler's boy totter forward beside Thomas. Great warm two-legged beasts. Stilt-gaited like the rest of their kind. The boy prances backward, eyeing me closely. Bland watery orbs, fringed with pale hair. Cavernous mouth. Halloos as though I were the king's stag being drawn through the village in a deer-cart.

My week gone in two-score of their strides. Through the meadow. Past the alcove and down the brick-walk. Wicket-gate clicks shut behind us. Thomas sets me down beside the asparagus. Edge of my umbrageous forest. All feet square on the ground again. Into the rubbery trunks. Young asparagus thrusting out of the earth like turtles' heads. Ferns just joining in a canopy above. Print of Thomas's warm fingers on my tiled belly, smell of tar and damp mould.

The voices separate and blow away. The boy's cries ring down the street with cries of other boys. A silence behind them, a hollow in the day. Earthworms breach and tunnel, tunnel and breach. Old Hercules in the Great Mead gestures as always, unmoving. Wooden features sadly weathered even since I first knew him. Goody Hammond sweeps white-apple blossoms from the grass-plot. Sings a scrap of song over and over as she works. Wheezing like the blacksmith's bellows across the way.

"O Christ! My very Heart doth bleed with Sorrow for thy Sake . . ."

Greenfinch rattles in the beds nearby, heedless of danger. Mayfly vanishes in the blur of a swallow's wings over the gravel walk. Swallow-bill closes, a smart snap, shutting of a watch-case.

The fuss the humans made when they found me. Escape of the Old Sussex Tortoise! Eight Days' Pursuit! Captured in Hampshire Bean-field! Authentic Deeds of Old Gardener, Weeding Woman, Shocking Boy!

Thomas regarded me sternly before setting me down. Cocked his hat. Took breath to speak, then didn't. Watched till I was deep in the asparagus, safely out of sight.

"Out!" Daniel Wheeler's boy shouted when they found me, stumbling over his heels. "Timothy got out!"

The boy is mistaken. There is no Out! Humans believe the asparagus forest is In! Fruit wall, laurel hedge. Melon-ground. They prey upon the distinction. But I am always Out. Among the anemones. On the grass-plot. In the shade of the Dutch-currant trees. In the sainfoin just short of the Pound Field. Under young beans a week away. Under the rasp and green-rust smell of their leaves.

And I was In there, too, as always. In, under unhedged stars, dark of the moon. Among chiding of field-crickets, stirring of long grasses, gleaming wind. Groaning of beech trees on the Hanger. Clap of thunder and din of hail. The honeyed smell of maples and sycamores in bloom. Clouds pulling apart to show their crimson. Beyond sight of humans. Within my beloved shell.

Great soft tottering beasts. They are out. Houses never by when they need them. Even the humblest villagers live in ill-fitting houses. The greater the personage the worse the fit. Crescent of pale shell at the ends of their fingers. Drab furrows of person-scented cloth hang about them. Dimity, corduroy, buckram, fustian, holland, shalloon, cambric, stuff, wool. False head of hair or kerchief or hat.

Contrivance of hide or wood on the feet, or none at all. Crust of polished dirt, sore-cracked soles, broken nails. Nothing as elegant as a horse's clean hoof, the arc of its wall. My own cruel claws. That mass of body and brainpan to heat and cool with their internal fires. No tegument, no pelt to help them. Only what they fashion for themselves. What they scab together from the world. Fleece, hide, feathers, scales, and shell all denied them. Faint, thin leather of their own growing, proof against nothing. Uneconomic creatures.

Excerpted from Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile by Verlyn Klinkenborg Copyright © 2006 by Verlyn Klinkenborg. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Bad Cree
    Bad Cree
    by Jessica Johns
    Jessica Johns' debut novel Bad Cree was inspired by her desire to disprove the idea, suggested by an...
  • Book Jacket: The Terraformers
    The Terraformers
    by Annalee Newitz
    Sask-E is a planet that Verdance, a major terraforming company, has big plans for. Their business is...
  • Book Jacket: The Light Pirate
    The Light Pirate
    by Lily Brooks-Dalton
    The lynchpin of The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton, a novel split into four parts, is the main ...
  • Book Jacket: The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On
    The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On
    by Franny Choi
    Calamity can cohabit with joy, and you and I have, on some plane, accepted that absurd reality. We ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Love of My Life
by Rosie Walsh
An up-all-night love story wrapped in a mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Ghosted.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Critic's Daughter
    by Priscilla Gilman

    An exquisitely rendered portrait of a unique father-daughter relationship and a moving memoir of family and identity.

  • Book Jacket

    This Other Eden
    by Paul Harding

    A novel inspired by the true story of Malaga Island from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Tinkers.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win French Braid

French Braid
by Anne Tyler

From the beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning author, a joyful journey deep into one Baltimore family's foibles.



Solve this clue:

It's A G T Me

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.