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The Stories of Paul Bowlesby Paul Bowles
Synopses & Reviews
An American literary cult figure, Paul Bowles established his legacy with the novel The Sheltering Sky. An immediate sensation, it became a fixture in American letters. Bowles then returned his energies to the short story — the genre he preferred and soon mastered.
Bowles' s short fiction is orchestral in composition and exacting in theme, marked by a unique, delicately spare style, and a dark, rich, exotic mood, by turns chilling, ironic, and wry. In "Pastor Dowe at Tecaté," a Protestant missionary is sent to the far reaches of the globe — a place, he discovers, where his God has no power. In "Call at Corazón," an American husband abandons his alcoholic wife on their honeymoon in a South American jungle. In "Allal," a boy's drug-induced metamorphosis into a deadly serpent leads to his violent death, but not before he feels the "joy" of sinking his fangs into his human prey. Here too are his most famous works, such as "The Delicate Prey," a grimly satisfying tale of vengeance and "A Distant Episode," which Tennessee Williams proclaimed "a masterpiece of short fiction."
Though shocking, Bowles's stories possess a symmetry between beauty and terror that is haunting and ultimately moral. Like Poe, Bowles had an instinctive adeptness with the nightmare vision. Like Hemingway, Bowles is famously unsentimental, a skilled craftsman of crystalline prose.
"Earthy, violent and comfortable with corruption, these deeply affecting stories are distinguished by their lyrical rhythms and meticulous regard for language. The assemblage of this impressive collection marks a literary event of the highest order." Publishers Weekly
"Lavish first collected edition of Bowles's harsh, unsparing short fiction...62 elegantly wrought, compact nightmare visions....Bowles was a great writer whom many readers may find hard to stomach....Those attuned to his hammer-blow rhetoric and nihilistic lyricism should find this generous volume just about irresistible." Kirkus Reviews
"The clash of alien and native cultures is a predominant theme found in Bowles' stories, worked out in various plot situations but always rendered in his trademark lucid, direct style. A necessary purchase for all active literature collections." Brad Hooper, Booklist
"In appearance, Bowles was an elegant man, but as a narrator he was remote, pitiless, and unsympathetic, and he dealt harshly with his characters....Containing 62 stories arranged chronologically and spanning 40 years, this edition is being published as part of the 30th anniversary of Ecco Press, of which Bowles was a cofounder. Essential for larger fiction collections." Library Journal
"Bowles writes from a sensibility that is foreign or at least remote from the American ordinary....The essential Bowles plot charts a clash between two cultures, one usually Western and the other primitive. Visitors come to feast on the picturesque and take one step off the beaten path. Sometimes their fate is terrible." Paul Gray, Time
"You only need to read a passage or two from one of his best pieces to feel thrust at breakneck speed into Bowles' universe. It is a realm of shocking cruelty and cold detachment, and...it proves powerfully seductive....Even at their most impressive, though, Bowles' stories may be best taken in small doses." Sean McCann, Book Magazine
"Paul Bowles has had few equals in the second half of the twentieth century." Gore Vidal
"Paul Bowles opened the world of Hip. He let in the murder, the drugs, the incest, the death of the Square...the call of the orgy, the end of civilization." Norman Mailer
About the Author
Paul Bowles was born in 1910 and studied music with composer Aaron Copland before moving to Tangier, Morocco, with his wife, Jane. He remained in Morocco, and it served as the inspiration for The Sheltering Sky, which was published in 1949. It was followed by The Delicate Prey, Let It Come Down, The Spider's House, and Without Stopping, a memoir that describes his legendary associations with members of the Beat Generation. Bowles's prolific career included many musical compositions, collections of short fiction, and books of travel and poetry and translations. He died in Morocco in 1999.
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