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Paul Bowles: the Sheltering Sky/ Let It Come Down/ the Spider's House (Library of America) Hardcover – August 26, 2002
In Twenty Years: A Novel
When five college roommates gather after twenty years, can the rifts between them be repaired? Learn More
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Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The most striking thing about Bowles' work is its pace. It moves at a mesmerizing rate. The language is fairly simple but it plods along with a suspensful tension that never lets up even after a climatic moment. It is the kind of fiction to read next to a fountain in a courtyard.
Bowles' characters are almost always out of place, or are where they shouldn't be, or where they think they should be. They become engulfed by cultures that they don't understand not through stupidity or banality but often through the natural course of clashing cultures. Reading the books can give you a feeling of getting lost, and overcome with a feeling that you don't belong, or that you're delving into worlds you aren't prepared to delve into. This is the terror that underlies nearly all of his writing. They are cautionary tales, and they have become more relevant in the past few years since Bowles' death in 1999 (not highly publicized), and the rising relevance of Islam in and to the West.
Bowles is one of the first western writers of fiction that treats Islam equally to European society. Islam is not merely a backdrop in which his characters find fault or get ground up in (i.e., you never get the sense that Bowles is blaming the cultures themselves for the destruction of his characters, typically they are responsible, but it really isn't anybody's 'fault' per se). This is multicultural literature at its best, because it allows nastiness and goodness on all sides.Read more ›
The Sheltering Sky, the first of three novels in this edition, is short, only 250 pages long. It seems to be considered his defining novel. It is about a married couple, Kit, and Port, and their sojourn into the Sahara Desert. They are dishonest with each other about many things, their shaky marriage, and the danger of the trip they have embarked on, fidelity. They cannot take charge of anything, their lives, their marriage, their trip, and even their privacy. The decisions that they make exude with bad judgement. This is exposed early on, when Porter goes off for a walk alone the city. He encounters a stranger, Smail; Port walks off with this stranger, out of the city into the desert to meet and be entertained by a young girl, who he is told is “not a [prostitute] but will want to be paid. The characters do dangerous things. You sense their doom with them. And, like them, the reader is compelled to go on. I do not want to give too many plot details as it might spoil the pleasure of reading what I think is an overlooked 20th century classic.
Let It Come Down, is about a bank clerk seeking adventure in Tangier. Like the Sheltering Sky, there is no happy ending here.Read more ›
So let's start with the book itself:
I own a Kindle. It's a fantastic thing for travel, and I even gave it a 5-star review of its own. But when someone says "there's nothing like the physicality of a real book", this is the very embodiment of that statement.
The binding is marvelous and timeless. Underneath the unassuming dust jacket are boards covered in a well-textured cloth the color of damp sand. It has a bound bookmark. The thin, crinkly pages are quite literally biblical. I look forward to turning them not only to find out what happens next, but also to experience the tactile pleasure of those fine leaves.
I wish that all books were made similarly to this one. It is well worth the cost above any digital or paperback options.
As for the content? As I intimated, I'd feel insecure giving an analysis of Bowles' work. In fact, prior to this I've never read anything he's written!
I hope it will suffice to say that this is a page-turner, but not in the trivial way of The Davinci Code or The Wolf of Wall Street. It's not an "easy read" in that sense. It is, however, difficult to put down. I often found myself so engrossed that I didn't realize I'd been sitting in the same position long past the point of developing a crick in my neck and my legs having fallen asleep. I'd end up surprised by the time after coming up for air.
The flow of Bowles' prose is so natural that it's easy to drift along with it. At times I felt like I was watching a movie, or perhaps something more immersive like lucid dreaming. It has a very natural depth.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I can't wait to delve into this book. It is a very nice cloth bound book in very good condition. It came faster than I expected.Published 17 months ago by UPPat
The Library of America makes the best of American writing available to broad audiences in uniform, reasonably priced volumes. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Robin Friedman
One of the best writers of the 20th century. So unusual and enigmatic are his stories that you will hooked and not realize it until the story has been told.Published 23 months ago by Retire to Portugal
Wonderful. After reading The sheltering Sky, I so missed Port and Kit.Published on July 20, 2014 by Donna Bland
As I write this I'm listening to King Crimson's classic instrumental "The Sheltering Sky," which is as mesmerizing as Paul Bowles' novel of the same name. Read morePublished on April 26, 2009 by Kristopher Spencer
Once more after finishing "Let It Come Down" by Paul Bowles I have become aware that some people are doomed to self-destruction and they rush there from their unhappiness and... Read morePublished on March 29, 2009 by Edita
I am captivated by the observations and writing style of Bowles that both brings me into his characters and the settings of Morroco. Read morePublished on November 26, 2007 by Lynda