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

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

Timothy

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
    Paperback:
    Jan 2007, 192 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Humans of Selborne wake all winter. Above ground, eating and eating, breathing and shitting, talking and talking. Huddled close to their fires. Fanning the ashes. Guarding the spark. Never a lasting silence for them. Never more than a one-night rest. When they go down in the ground, they go down in boxes, for good, and only with the help of others standing round. Peering into the darkness of the cold earth they fear. The neat, rectangular hole.

Men haul peat from the forest, laboring over ruts and horse-tracks and onto the village cart-way. They measure out bushels of coal. Cut cord-wood. Stack beech-billet, cleft-wood, and faggots. Go to law over lop and top. Smoke beats down over the village. Tumbles from chimneys, thick over the fields. Beech-smoke, coal-smoke, peat-smoke. London smoke, a sulfurous haze from the northeast.

Cold wind settles against the glass. Rain under the tiles, through the wind-torn thatch. Only the oak-shingled roof of St. Mary's keeps tight above the village. Flights of snow. Epidemic freeze. Winter comes like the clamoring of the stone-curlew. A noise in the air of something passing quick over their heads after it becomes dark.

To humans, in and out are matters of life and death. Not to me. Warm earth waits just beneath me, the planet's viscous, scalding core. It takes a cool blood to feel that warmth, here at its circumference. The humans' own heat keeps them from sensing it. I drift for months--year's great night--floating on the outer edge of Earth's corona. The only calendar my blood, how it drugs me.

When autumn pinches, I dig. November darkens, fasting long since begun. Day after day. Steady, steady. Stroke on one side. Stroke on the other. Slow as the hour-hand and just as relentless. Swimming in place, burrowing my body's length and depth. Ease in, out, adjust the fit. Another day or two. No rush. No rush. Ease in again. A last fitting. Air hole open. Stow legs. Retreat under roof of self. Under vault of ribs and spine.

Loose earth covers my back. Laurel leaves, walnut leaves, chalk soil, Dorton mould. I wait, then cease to wait. Earth rolls repeatedly through day and night. Layer of rime. The frost binds. Then snow, that friendly meteor. Kindly mantle of infant vegetation. Insulating all of us who cling to the soil. Who have not got too upright, too far from the native horizontal. Earth beneath me throbs with warmth. Cold black sky presses down. Current of memory tugs at me. A long, long descent into perfect absence. I remember only where I'm going.


Meanwhile, the village stirs. Boys slide on ice. Girls chap hands. Straddle-bob Orion tips downward over the brew-house, over the Hanger. Barnyard turnip-piles freeze hard as stone. Men shovel the track to Newton. Hollow lanes--deep as a cottage, narrow as a walk--fill with snow. Pack-horses go belly-deep in open country.

Rugged Siberian weather. Laplandian-scene. The village cut off for weeks, hidden in the folds of England. Poultry confounded. Bantams fly over their house. Forty-one sheep buried in snow. Redbreasts, wrens, and beggars in barns and cow-houses. Worries about prices of mutton, hay, barley seed. Haws freeze on hedges. Pheasant stands on dung-pile. Hares cross the garden snowpack and crop the pinks. Gardeners take aim from the windows.

Mr. Gilbert White watches through the parlor window. Tries to remember just where he saw me digging last fall. All his garden buried in drifts. Returns to his letter. Stitch in his side from writing. To niece Molly in London, asking her to send breakfast green tea and best tea. Great beast of a town. Cold as Petersburg. Londoners on the frozen Thames. Snow like bay-salt. Carriages quiet on the cobbles for once, cushioned by snow. Sound of a deserted city. Many weeks until mackerels are cried in the streets. Until green geese move along them in droves, driven by a boy just their speed.

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" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Perfectionists
    The Perfectionists
    by Simon Winchester
    We seek precision in our lives every day. We want to drive from home to work and work to home safely...
  • Book Jacket: Beauty in the Broken Places
    Beauty in the Broken Places
    by Allison Pataki
    Ernest Hemingway wrote that we are "strong at the broken places," and Allison Pataki found that to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Love and Other Consolation Prizes
    by Jamie Ford
    Love and Other Consolation Prizes was read and reviewed by 22 BookBrowse members for First ...
  • Book Jacket: The Judge Hunter
    The Judge Hunter
    by Christopher Buckley
    In London 1664, Balthasar de St. Michel or "Balty" has no discernable skills besides pestering his ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

An audacious American epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Summer Wives
    by Beatriz Williams

    An electrifying postwar fable of love, class, power and redemption set on an island off the New England coast.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Family Tabor
    by Cherise Wolas

    Wolas's gorgeously rendered sophomore novel reckons with the nature of the stories we tell ourselves.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win A Place for Us

A Place For Us

A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H, W H A Problem

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.