Paul Bowles
February 27, 2011 8:32 PM   Subscribe

Paul Bowles - "novelist, composer, poet and quintessential outsider of American literature".
posted by Joe Beese (14 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Adore his short stories, never got around to anything else. So uh, consider that an endorsement of his short fiction, if you will.
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:44 PM on February 27, 2011

Mr. Bowles' short stories are amongst the most harrowing I've ever encountered. They define the concept of 'bleak' in literature. I never read them when I'm down and I only offer them to the strong.
posted by artof.mulata at 8:59 PM on February 27, 2011

Yes, Bowles is accused, as are many, of Said's "Orientalism." I have to say, though, having spent quite some time in spaces far away from the USA, that this construct is not as identical to racism or equivalent to stereotyping and thus distancing oneself from "the Other" as it might seem. In fact, living in a country other than one's own is an intense conglomeration of experiences too numerous to go through here. Suffice it to say, though, that expatriate residence is conducive to fresh experiences in aesthetic production. It certainly was for Bowles.
posted by kozad at 9:35 PM on February 27, 2011

Paul Bowles recorded an album for Tellus in 1989.
MP3 version available at UbuWeb
posted by Abinadab at 9:48 PM on February 27, 2011

I highly recommend the "Baptism of Solitude" album - Bowles reciting his work backed by Bill Laswell soundscapes.
posted by davebush at 10:06 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know a guy who visited Bowles in Morocco in what must have been the early or mid-90's.

If you were attractive, relatively young, and male he'd make you tea and have a chat with you.
posted by bardic at 10:30 PM on February 27, 2011

Adore his short stories, never got around to anything else.

This is generally what you hear of Mr. Bowles. For whatever reason, I've yet to read any of his short stories, but have found myself utterly engrossed by three of his novels: The Sheltering Sky, Let It Come Down and Up Above The World. He's a master, unqualified. Definitely rates in my small handful of all time fiction favorites.

Thanks for the post, and the reminder that I've got The Delicate Prey on my "to read" shelf. (a collection short stories)
posted by philip-random at 10:35 PM on February 27, 2011

I must enthusiastically second davebush's recommendation of the Baptism of Solitude record of readings by Bowles backed with musical textures by Bill Laswell. Haunting and spare and gorgeous, with Bowles' aged voice and understated, rhythmic delivery just making this one of my favorite records ever. Bowles is a genius of aesthetic enervation.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 11:17 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

ZBS has (for sale) a pretty cool interview Tom Lopez did with Bowles in '67.
posted by sonascope at 4:06 AM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

His translations of Mrabet's stories are sensational.
posted by Wolof at 4:23 AM on February 28, 2011

The Sheltering Sky changed my life, once. I was reading my way through one of those "Greatest 100 Books of the 20th Century" lists, one of the famous British ones that I can't recall the name of now. I re-read some things I'd read years before, and suffered through some novels that made me think, "People like this crap?" When I got to The Sheltering Sky, I had no idea what to expect, having never heard of Bowles before. I was 25, floundering in a series of dead-end jobs, and trying very hard to make it in 'the only city I'd ever wanted to live in,' which was turning out to be rather unfulfilling. That story grabbed me and simply did not let go.
posted by polly_dactyl at 5:34 AM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the post. I'm telling myself that it was my recent nod to Mr. Bowles that inspired you.
posted by Rykey at 7:28 AM on February 28, 2011

The Sheltering Sky has the single best passage/description of dying and death I've ever come across.
posted by judson at 7:58 AM on February 28, 2011

Might be worth putting in a brief plug for his often ignored wife, Jane Bowles - she only wrote one novel, Two Serious Ladies, but it's pretty incredible.
posted by with hidden noise at 2:08 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

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