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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (206 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Verlyn Klinkenborg Narrator: Josephine Bailey Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Few writers have attempted to explore the natural history of a particular animal by adopting the animal’s own sensibility. But Verlyn Klinkenborg—with his deeply empathetic relation to the world around him—has done just that, and done it brilliantly, in Timothy; or Notes of an Abject Reptile.

This is the story of a tortoise whose real life was observed by the eighteenth-century English curate Gilbert White, author of The Natural History of Selborne. For thirteen years, Timothy lived in White’s garden—making an occasional appearance in his journals. Now Klinkenborg gives the tortoise an unforgettable voice and powers of observation as keen as those of any bipedal naturalist. The happy result: Timothy regales us with an account of a gracefully paced (no unseemly hurry!) eight-day adventure outside the gate (How do I escape from that nimble-tongued, fleet-footed race? … Walk through the holes in their attention) and entertains us with shrewd observations about the curious habits and habitations of humanity. To humans, Timothy says with doleful understanding, in and out are matters of life and death. Not to me. Warm earth waits just beneath me … The humans’ own heat keeps them from sensing it.

Wry and wise, unexpectedly moving, and enchanting at every—careful—turn, Timothy will surprise and delight readers of all ages.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A work of both speculative naturalism and speculative biography.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Natural history at its best: thoughtful, meditative, and even magical.”

    Bookmarks Magazine

  • “A gorgeous hybrid of naturalist observation, novelistic invention and philosophical meditation…This is a wholly unexpected and astonishing book.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Magila | 2/20/2014

    " disclosure: i listened to the book. i got about a fifth of the way through. it's interesting, but i cannot get over the reader. a british angela lansbury reads it. timothy, the story of a tortoise dude, given voice by a snooty sounding lady. can't do it. imagine for a moment nemo, children's favorite clown fish, having the voice of dolly parton. it's distracting, and it makes me like the book less. it might deserve a 3 in reality, but for now it's getting put to the side with a 1... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Steve | 2/3/2014

    " Written from a tortoise's point of view, this books is both really entertaining along with relaxing. One of the best summer reads. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Liz | 1/17/2014

    " The formal language style made this a tough read for me but it was interesting and educational - a displaced tortoise's story from it's (his) point of view. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tanya Gerald | 1/6/2014

    " Beautiful writing from a tortoise perspective. Some great observations. A little slow for me (duh, it is a tortoise!) "

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About the Author
Author Verlyn Klinkenborg

Verlyn Klinkenborg is a member of the editorial board of the New York Times. He has taught literature and creative writing at Fordham University, St. Olaf College, Bennington College, and Harvard University, and he is a recipient of the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Writer’s Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Klinkenborg is the author of Making Hay, The Last Fine Time, and The Rural Life. He lives in upstate New York.