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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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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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... 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 authentic to ...

How long?

Hilary Mantel, 27 February 1992

The Literary Companion to Sex: An Anthology of Prose and Poetry 
edited by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 415 pp., £18, February 1992, 1 85619 127 3
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The Love Quest: A Sexual Odyssey 
by Anne Cumming.
Peter Owen, 200 pp., £15.50, November 1991, 9780720608359
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... Africa. In the course of her travels over the next few years she will meet William Burroughs and Paul Bowles, and a number of other people who she hints are famous but who must be protected by pseudonyms. She also encounters any number of eager organs. The first belongs to a man who had just come third in the Tour de France, a fact which inexplicably ...

Yak Sandwiches

Christopher Burns, 31 March 1988

Pleasure 
by John Murray.
Aidan Ellis, 233 pp., £10.50, October 1987, 0 85628 167 0
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Absurd Courage 
by Nobuko Albery.
Century, 254 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 7126 1149 5
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Laing 
by Ann Schlee.
Macmillan, 302 pp., £10.95, November 1987, 0 333 45633 5
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The Part of Fortune 
by Laurel Goldman.
Faber, 249 pp., £10.95, November 1987, 0 571 14921 9
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In the Fertile Land 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Carcanet, 212 pp., £10.95, November 1987, 0 85635 716 2
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... paradoxical restriction sets in, so that the tone becomes remarkably similar to passages in Paul Bowles. Ann Schlee is very much her own writer, however, and her talent is considerable. The Part of Fortune is set in the American South, and is centred upon the Green Mansions Home for the Elderly. This lies deep in the heart of Dirty Realism ...

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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... 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 their society are most clearly discernible ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... pleased to be reassured about one’s moral decline. Gavin L. is en route for Tangier to see Paul Bowles. I say that Bowles must be quite old now. ‘Yes,’ says Gavin, ‘82.’ ‘That’s not so old,’ says Lindsay. ‘Well it’s a funny age, 82,’ says Gavin. ‘I’ve known several people of 82 who ...

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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... better. 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 Ansen, who gets no credit here ...

Before and After Said

Maya Jasanoff: A Reappraisal of Orientalism, 8 June 2006

For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and their Enemies 
by Robert Irwin.
Allen Lane, 416 pp., £25, January 2006, 0 7139 9415 0
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... one moves in a cocoon of incandescent heat. You could just about imagine a story in the manner of Paul Bowles unfolding here – where an intrepid European manuscript scholar, say, is snatched by Touaregs and spends the rest of a miserable life, sun-blistered and crazed, on the fringes of the desert, never to be seen by Westerners again. But it takes a ...

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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... 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 Weil,’ she declares, ‘although ...

Modernity’s Undoing

Pankaj Mishra: ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’, 31 March 2011

A Visit from the Goon Squad 
by Jennifer Egan.
Corsair, 336 pp., £14.99, March 2011, 978 1 78033 028 0
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... terse lyricism, and worldly wisdom about the workings of power, bring to mind the short stories of Paul Bowles and Deborah Eisenberg. Remarkably for a writer of her generation (she was born in 1962), Egan seemed like an expatriate, looking back with biting irony at her fellow Americans and their insufficiently examined expectations of ...

Ways to Be Pretentious

Ian Penman, 5 May 2016

M Train 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 253 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6768 6
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Collected Lyrics 1970-2015 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 303 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6300 8
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... It was only when I got to the chapter featuring two people whose work I happen to know and love, Paul Bowles and Jean Genet, that the spell was broken. All of a sudden, this oddfellow’s odyssey didn’t feel quite so whimsical – it felt borderline exploitative, as though she was using these people, or their memory, to make herself look good. ...

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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... like some lesser piece of Frederic Raphael university-and-after, not Colegate territory at all. Paul Bowles’s short stories concentrate almost entirely on sense of place, or at least of place dominating character and directing it. Bowles has lived for many years in Tangier, and most of the stories are set ...

Smilingly Excluded

Richard Lloyd Parry: An Outsider in Tokyo, 17 August 2006

The Japan Journals: 1947-2004 
by Donald Richie, edited by Leza Lowitz.
Stone Bridge, 494 pp., £13.99, October 2005, 1 880656 97 3
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... of a Chatwin or a Naipaul, let alone fostered a Kipling, a Somerset Maugham, a Hemingway or a Paul Bowles. No one has had a greater yearning or been better qualified to fill this gap than Donald Richie. ‘Almost everything I do, everything that is known about me, is connected to this country,’ he wrote. ‘To be a person so intent upon describing ...

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