- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial (November 1, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0880012633
- ISBN-13: 978-0880012638
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,157,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Delicate Prey Paperback – November 1, 1990
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Paul Bowles once said that a story should remain taut throughout, like a piece of string. That tense, stretched tone is the key to this collection of 17 eerie tales by the author best known for The Sheltering Sky. The Delicate Prey is dedicated: "For my mother, who first read me the stories of Poe." If Poe had lived in Mexico, and he'd had ice water running in his veins to counteract his feverish romanticism, he might have crafted something like these odd vignettes about human frailty and cruelty. The setting is a world where palm trees are like "shiny green spiders," where bats reel silently overhead in a jet-black sky, where a hot, relentless wind blows across deserted plazas.
As Tobias Wolff writes in Esquire, "The Delicate Prey is in fact one of the most profound, beautifully wrought, and haunting collections in our literature.... Bowles's tales are at once austere, witty, violent, and sensuous. They move with the inevitability of myth. His language has a purity of line, a poise and authority entirely its own, capable of instantly modulating from farce to horror without a ruffle."
"Paul Bowles has 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""The Delicate Prey" is in fact one of the most profound, beautifully wrought, and haunting collections in our literature, ...Bowles's tales are at once austere, witty, violent, and sensuous. They move with the inevitability of myth. His language has a purity of line, a pise and authority entirely its own, capable of instantly modulating from farce to horror without a ruffle and without giving any signal of delight in itself. It never goes on parade."--Tobia Wolff, "Esquire""Paul Bowles's sense of what can go wrong is as acute as that of any American writer since Poe. It's not simply the subject matter but the pitiless clarity, the unblinking regard in the face of human frailty and cruelty, that is so disquieting in Bowles's work. Whereas the terror in Poe seems to arise from an overheated romantic imagination suffering the torments it bodies forth, Bowles's sensibility is calssical in is aloofness, his prose as hard-edged and dazzling as a desert landscape at noon."--Jay McInerney, "Vanity Fair" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
One of the best tales seems to be an allegory of Bowles' progress from music to writing. In A DISTANT EPISODE, a professor of music gets abducted by desert bandits who remove his tongue and "train" him into becoming a dancing clown, like a monkey owned by a hurdy-gurdy man. They exhibit him widely, and his brain is so badly damaged that he is content with his retardation, knowing only the blows of his captors, until one afternoon when he accidentally hears some bars of Western music. He starts to cry and bawl his head off, he knows not why. It is a thoroughly repulsive story, but it displays beautifully the ambiguity with which Bowles viewed his long-ago music career, which he must after awhile have remembered only through a thousand veils.
PAGES FROM COLD POINT is pretty stronr too, not to say ripe. In Belize in the Caribbean, a wealthy American gay man comes to stay in a seaside mansion with his 16 year old son, Racky, the apple of his eye. What he doesn't know is that Racky is the bad seed incarnate, like a male Lolita, sex in dungarees. Racky enjoys going to every man and boy on the island, black or white, and seducing them, for he is so lovely no one would say no to him. Eventually the elders and the women decide to put the hammer down and warn the dad to take his slutty boy off the island or trouble will ensue. You won't believe what happens next, but it is worthy of a great porn movie. Radley Metzger might have made you believe it, but for Paul Bowles it was just another day in the life.