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The Stories of Paul Bowles Paperback – October 31, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 680 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061137049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061137044
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #819,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As elusive as his enigmatic fiction, which is epitomized by the 1949 autobiographical bestselling novel, The Sheltering Sky, Bowles (1910-2001) arguably has been venerated as much for being the mythical forerunner of the Beat Generation as for his considerable genius, both musical and literary. A darling of iconoclastic literati both here and abroad, he first became known as a composer, writing music for stage and screen. Only after his marriage to Jane Auer (herself soon to become a cultishly popular writer under the name Jane Bowles) in 1938 did he turn seriously to fiction. The exotic settings of the 62 stories collected in this landmark volume reflect the wanderings of nomadic Paul and Jane as, during the '30s and '40s, they flitted from Europe to Mexico, the Caribbean and the U.S. before finally settling in Tangiers in 1949. Over the years, Bowles's fascination with Western man's intrinsic decadence, laid bare in clashes with exotic cultures, became the signature motif of his existential fiction ("The Hours After Noon" and "Too Far from Home"). His oblique language and abrupt endings ("At Paso Rojo") are curiously confounding, and his tales are invariably charged with subterranean currents. Frankly incestuous and homosexual, "Pages from Cold Point" is almost certain to stir anew speculation about Bowles's sexual orientation. 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. (Oct.)Forecast: This definitive volume will be a must-have for all major libraries, and should attract much review attention and feature coverage. Bowles cofounded Antaeus magazine with Daniel Halpern in 1968, and soon afterward the magazine became the Ecco Press. This collection is being published to coincide with Ecco's 30th anniversary, and publisher Halpern will be available to discuss his longtime friendship with Bowles.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Raymond Carver once said that he liked short stories that had "some feeling of threat or sense of menace." He would have loved Bowles's work. These pieces, set mostly in Tangier where Bowles, an American expatriate, lived most of his life and died in 2001 are often bizarre, sadistic, and menacing. In appearance, Bowles was an elegant man, but as a narrator he was remote, pitiless, and unsympathetic, and he dealt harshly with his characters, whether Moroccan or European expatriates. In "The Garden," "Mejdoub," and "Things Gone and Things Still Here," which echo Moroccan legend and folklore, the unrelenting desert is a huge presence. In other stories, like "The Hours After Noon" and "Too Far from Home," Bowles exposes the psychological fragility of the non-African in the North African desert, where Western values are a chimera. 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. Mary Szczesiul, Roseville P.L., MI
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

He is still fascinating; his writing has a uniquely arid atmosphere that matches his Moroccan subject matter perfectly.
Rebecca Guy-Bauer
Even when nothing especially horrific happens, the reader finds himself tense with expectation and breathing something like a sigh of relief.
Mark Nadja
Obviously I am a big fan and having this huge collection of short stories was something I had to have for my Paul Bowles collection.
slf

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on October 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There are many reasons to read Paul Bowles. One is for the strange atmospheres he describes, another is for the fragile, delicate and easily dissembled egos of his protaganists. A typical Bowles story introduces you to all of these elements at once, one playing or preying on the other. In these stories we see the unraveling of identity after identity and the impression that builds as one moves from one story to another is that there is nothing that can save this from happening to the unprotected or unsheltered westerner whose identity structure disintegrates so easily when divorced from the western setting it is so reliant on. This pattern is also evident in his famous novel Sheltering Sky, a document of one man seeking dissolution in the desert, the fact that he is with a wife and a friend only underline his inability to desire anything, he simply seeks to journey away from everything. In Bowles stories (which take place in both South American and North African settings) the westerner, often an American, is seen as an unwanted invader by the natives of the visited region. The anti-colonial sentiment is there in these stories but Bowles' westerners seem to be the only ones unaware of it. But that is just one aspect of these stories, each story also has at least one other unsavory aspect as well(murder, incest, rape, drugs). The natives of Bowles foreign locales are usually not given much in the way of individual identities, it is the westerners who are singled out for study, the stories take place in their minds and thought processes. The foreign locales serve merely as backdrops, though very atmospheric writing makes those backdrops part of these stories appeal.Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mark Nadja on September 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a collection of stories this hefty--a sampling filling well over 600 pages and covering every phase of Bowles's long and prolific writing career--you'd expect to find more than your share of duds. But such is not the case here. In fact, there are hardly any stories in this volume that you could consider an out-and-out "dud."

Stephen King once wrote that the ultimate tale of terror is one in which the reader senses that any character, at any time, including the narrator, could die. Bowles seems to write with this dictum in mind. His stories are almost always ominous because of the sense that no one is invulnerable from the dark currents of violence that run just under the surface of life. Even when nothing especially horrific happens, the reader finds himself tense with expectation and breathing something like a sigh of relief. That most of these stories are set in exotic locales, difficult of access and strange of custom, where the "civilized" white, whether tourist or expatriate, is always an outsider only emphasizes what seems to me a constant in Bowles's outlook whether the story is set in Tangier or Tucson--that life is a state of affairs where we are never completely at home. We're always interlopers, just passing through; no matter how long we stay, we'll never be a native; we'll never truly belong.

And so misunderstandings abound--and some of these misinterpretations, whether of the people, the customs, or the landscape, all of them equally unfamiliar and mysterious, can be fatal.

Bowles writes a beautifully clear and straightforward prose that is nonetheless deft enough to express the subtlest psychological nuances. He is famously unsentimental, but not at all unfeeling.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Flipper Campbell VINE VOICE on December 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A beautiful collection that certainly beats the old reliable Black Sparrow book. This is a class treatment of one of the best writers working the middle part of the century. (The intro is not particulary illuminating, however.) The lengthy review here by Doug Anderson gets the job done if you are new to Bowles. What strikes one upon revisiting Bowles is how contemporary he was in tone. These are hard-edged stories, dark and mysterious. World literature. A must collection for any serious reader of 20th century writing.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Mc Coy on January 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
This collection certifies Bowles brilliance. I have enjoyed his novels, but these fascinating short stories reveal him to be one of the greatest American writers of the century, perhaps the most under-rated American writer. I like the fact that his stories are often set in exotic locals like Morocco, S. America, Mexico, and Thailand. He is also good with stories about expats as well as those written form the point of view of locals, some of these stories comes across like parables.

There are several memorable stories, but "A Distant Episode" in particular is brilliant. It's about an ethnologist who goes to study a distant tribe and is drugged fed mushrooms, has his tongue cut out and made to dance before the tribe. His later stories lose none of his precision in story telling either; it is a solid body of work. Highly recommended, however buy the paperback it's a bit of a doorstop at 657 pages.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By slf on April 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
After reading Paul Bowles "The Sheltering Sky" twice, I could not consume enough of his writing. He was to me, a writer's writer. He has a way of pulling you into his adventures without overloading you with minute useless details. His writing just flows from sentence to sentence while the reader is swept away effortlessly along whatever path he is taking. Obviously I am a big fan and having this huge collection of short stories was something I had to have for my Paul Bowles collection. Also check out "My Sister's Hand In Mine" a collection of short stories written by Paul Bowles wife, Jane Bowles, it's equally intriguing. What a fasinating life they must have had!
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