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Avoid the Orient

Colm Tóibín: The Ghastly Paul Bowles, 4 January 2007

Paul BowlesA Life 
by Virginia Spencer Carr.
Peter Owen, 431 pp., £19.95, July 2005, 0 7206 1254 3
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... Long before the sin of Orientalism was discovered, Paul Bowles had frequently been guilty of it, in word, in thought and in deed. In his first stories, for example, the natives are shining examples of naked otherness, created partly to refresh our view concerning the mixture of simplicity, guile and sexual beauty available in remote places ...

His v. Hers

Mark Ford, 9 March 1995

In Touch: The Letters of Paul Bowles 
edited by Jeffrey Miller.
HarperCollins, 604 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 00 255535 2
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... The final section of Paul Bowles’s most famous novel, The Sheltering Sky, is prefaced by a quotation from Kafka that encapsulates the narrative trajectory of just about everything Bowles has ever written: ‘From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached ...

If you’re not a lesbian, get the hell out

Lidija Haas: Jane Bowles, 25 April 2013

Everything Is Nice: Collected Stories, Sketches and Plays 
by Jane Bowles.
Sort Of, 416 pp., £10.99, December 2012, 978 1 908745 15 6
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... He’s my enemy,’ Jane Auer recalled telling a friend when she first met Paul Bowles. But she immediately followed him to Mexico even so and, though she had been and would always be much more drawn to women, married him less than a year later. The instinct to court an ‘enemy’ rather than an admirer may have been a shrewd one: it seems to have been especially difficult for Bowles’s admirers to do her justice ...

Other Things

J.I.M. Stewart, 2 February 1984

Soor Hearts 
by Robert Alan Jamieson.
Paul Harris, 166 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 86228 072 9
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The Life and Loves of a She-Devil 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 240 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 9780340332283
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Cathedral 
by Raymond Carver.
Collins, 230 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 00 222790 8
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The Cannibal Galaxy 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Secker, 162 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 436 35483 7
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The Collected Works of Jane Bowles 
introduced by Truman Capote.
Peter Owen, 476 pp., £10.95, January 1984, 0 7206 0613 6
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Let it come down 
by Paul Bowles.
Peter Owen, 318 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 7206 0614 4
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... her own pupil, with unfortunate results. Pupillage at any stage of her career is inconceivable of Jane Bowles. Two Serious Ladies, a novel begun when she was 21, is a strangely mature and confident achievement of a totally original sort. When her characters speak it is to an effect at once inconsequent and inevitable, piercing and tangential, wholly ...

Aviators and Movie Stars

Patricia Lockwood: Carson McCullers, 18 October 2017

Stories, Plays and Other Writings 
by Carson McCullers.
Library of America, 672 pp., £33.99, January 2017, 978 1 59853 511 2
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... such diverse inhabitants as McCullers, W.H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Gypsy Rose Lee, Paul and Jane Bowles and Richard Wright. (Auden seems to have been an especially terrible housemate, complaining about excessive use of toilet paper and telling people their colds weren’t physical but mental.) Carson was one of the original members; she arrived ...
The ego is always at the wheel 
by Delmore Schwartz.
Carcanet, 146 pp., £6.95, May 1987, 0 85635 702 2
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A Nest of Ninnies 
by John Ashbery and James Schuyler.
Carcanet, 191 pp., £10.95, June 1987, 0 85635 699 9
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... like the opacities of A Nest of Ninnies – though on a very different level of intensity – is Jane Bowles. A Nest of Ninnies sustains itself by a quite amazing inventiveness. Although it reduces all externals, all conceptions of character, to a vast private joke, within these self-imposed limits the novel manages to create, out of its own ...

Getting on

Humphrey Carpenter, 18 July 1985

In the Dark 
by R.M. Lamming.
Cape, 230 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 9780224022927
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A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory 
by Isabel Colegate.
Hamish Hamilton, 153 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 241 11532 9
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Midnight Mass 
by Peter Bowles.
Peter Owen, 190 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 7206 0647 0
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The Silver Age 
by James Lasdun.
Cape, 186 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 0 224 02316 0
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The House of Kanze 
by Nobuko Albery.
Century, 307 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 7126 0850 8
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... the sense of place that In the Dark really lacks. To write about Bath without invoking echoes of Jane Austen would be quite an achievement; to write about it in a deliberately Austenian manner takes even more nerve. But for most of ‘The girl who had lived among artists’ Colegate brings it off. The story is set in the 1930s, in a distinctly ...

Hellmouth

Michael André Bernstein: Norman Rush, 22 January 2004

Mortals 
by Norman Rush.
Cape, 715 pp., £18.99, July 2003, 0 224 03709 9
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... anywhere but in the economic or cultural heartland of the global American imperium. Except for Jane and Paul Bowles in Morocco, only Robert Stone and Joan Didion suggest themselves, and neither of them is associated closely with any one setting. On the whole, American writers seem convinced that the vital features of ...

Tickle and Flutter

Terry Castle: Maude Hutchins’s Revenge, 3 July 2008

... Hutchins’s novel need be read solely as displaced autobiography. Like similar forays by Barnes, Jane Bowles or Carson McCullers, Victorine makes its claim on us precisely because it transcends whatever idiosyncratic psychic turmoil it may once have registered. No, Hutchins will never please readers who judge Flaubertian self-effacement essential to ...

I Could Sleep with All of Them

Colm Tóibín: The Mann Family, 6 November 2008

In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story 
by Andrea Weiss.
Chicago, 302 pp., £14.50, May 2008, 978 0 226 88672 5
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... with Carson McCullers, Gypsy Rose Lee, Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears, Chester Kallman, Paul Bowles and Jane Bowles, among others, he wrote in his diary: ‘What an epic one could write about this!’ Soon Golo too moved in, having escaped from the Nazis by walking over the Pyrenees with his uncle Heinrich, Alma ...

I dive under the covers

Sheila Heti: Mad Wives, 6 June 2013

Heroines 
by Kate Zambreno.
Semiotext(e), 309 pp., £12.95, November 2012, 978 1 58435 114 6
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... of noble adventure (they had known each other three months, we had known each other nine).’ Jane and Paul Bowles are always on the move – so are she and John. Zelda and Virginia Woolf had debilitating periods and headaches – she does, too. How far can she go? In one scene, she looks at Simone Weil. ‘I am Simone ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe, 27 September 2012

All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... Russes dancer Tamara Karsavina; the photographer Berenice Abbott; modernist designer Eileen Gray; Jane Heap and Margaret Anderson, editors of the avant-garde literary magazine the Little Review; not to mention Colette, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Djuna Barnes, Romaine Brooks, Virginia Woolf, Janet Flanner, Vita Sackville-West, Greta Garbo, Marlene ...

At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive, 10 June 1999

... boost with John van Druten’s adaptation in 1951 of the Berlin stories (principally ‘Sally Bowles’): I am a Camera was a hit in New York and London (Isherwood, as ‘originator’, was on a 2.5 per cent royalty) and was filmed, starring Laurence Harvey, in 1955. Cabaret, the musical version, opened in New York in 1966 and was filmed in ...

Falling in love with Lucian

Colm Tóibín: Lucian Freud’s Outer Being, 10 October 2019

The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth, 1922-68 
by William Feaver.
Bloomsbury, 680 pp., £35, September 2019, 978 1 4088 5093 0
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... chores were not, and would never be, Freud’s thing. His laundry was done by a friend called Jane all his life. ‘I don’t think he had the faintest idea what laundry was,’ Frank Auerbach said. ‘He put it into this basket and it came back from Jane immaculately laundered.’ After he left school, his father took ...

Junk Mail

Jeremy Harding, 23 September 1993

The Letters of William Burroughs, 1949-1959 
edited by Oliver Harris.
Picador, 472 pp., £17.50, August 1993, 0 330 33074 8
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... Throughout the period in Tangier, the living drift among the dead. We see a fair amount of Paul Bowles ‘that shameless faker’ – a view later revised – and his ‘dungaree-wearing Lizzie wife’, Jane, whose own arrangement was the mirror-image of Burroughs’s with Joan. There is also Auden’s secretary Alan ...

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