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Book reviews for "Bowles,_Paul" sorted by average review score:

Claudio Bravo: Paintings and Drawings
Published in Hardcover by Abbeville Press, Inc. (March, 1997)
Authors: Paul Bowles, Mario Vargas Llosa, Claudio Bravo, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Hugo Valcarce
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When your soul is shattered then it's amazing
Right lets start off by skipping the origin stuff, the early years stuff, and who associated with whom stuff. Claudio Bravo is hands down the best artist there is still living, period. Fluff piece? not when merit is the order of the day. Practically self- taught Bravo paints with obvious skill and attention. He explains his approach, in the text, and within the still lifes, (his are the only ones I thought worth a damn.) and figurative work, whether in oil, pastel, chalk, or pencil, he commands his instinct to persue his vision. Don't like it? Tough, Bravo isn't ashamed, nor repentent about his skill as a realist, quasi- or otherwise. I saw the man's work at Duke in '88 and made my decision there and then to be an artist. I've never looked back, and his book is a confirmation of ideals badly missed in contemporary art, and I wish there were more copies so I could buy one. Now old boy is in the 60's U.S. take notice, this is one true artist not likely to come this way again, dig it. Adam Narcross

Bravo!!!!!! to Bravo
It took a long while to finally find this treasure but well worth it. This book really allows one to appreciate this master if only in a book. Mr. Bravo is nothing short of a genius.

Expensive -- but worth it -- if you can find it
This large book contains many excellent color reproductions of Bravo's oils and pastels, and also some beautiful reproductions of pencil, charcoal and sanguine drawings. While the reproductions are tiny compared to the originals, which are very large, the book is a wonderful treasure. I went to see some of the orignals at the gallery that represents Bravo in New York. Now, looking at the book, I am more conscious of the scale difference. But, there are two reproductions -- a portrait, and a still life of a hat, there are presented just slightly smaller than they were actually painted. These are especially interesting. I haven't seen any other same-size reproductions or details in catalogs. The book was published at $95. I looked for a copy for months and paid hundreds, but for me it was well worth it -- especially since I will never be able to afford an original (upper five figures for pastels and six figures for oils).

Published in Hardcover by Black Sparrow Press (January, 2000)
Author: BOWLES P
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Good way to get into bowles
A fabulous collection by one of the better fiction writers from this century. If you are new to Bowles, this is an excellent way to dig in and see and what he is about. East/West cultural differences, bizarre mysticism and brutality are some of the main ideas explored here with his characteristic almost dead-pan descriptions that are both beautiful and brutal in their honesty. Learn why he has been cited as one of the best writers by everyone from the Beats to Raymond Carver. Set apart from them all in Africa, he still managed to influence all of them in major ways. Open it and enjoy.

A truly great collection
At his best, Bowles is rarely matched as a short story writer (A Distant Episode, The Frozen Fields, Pastor Dowe at Tacate, The Time of Friendship, The Delicate Prey, etc.). Precise, detached prose which often sustains a terrifying and revealing intensity of atmosphere. Any fans of "horror" would love this, though much of the terror is implied, psychological. There's also a few 4-5 pg. hallucinogenic (sp?) pieces which don't do much for me. Well worth reading. And reading (have read A Distant Episode three times).

Fantastic Short story collection, direct and poetic
I love the stories of Paul Bowles. One of the few writers which spins a web of magic around his short stories without overdosing in adjectives. The worlds of bowles are often drawn in pure, brutal, indegenious colours, which you can nearly smell and taste when you read them. Many stories of him play in morocco (or south america), and if you want to learn something of these exciting countries and the culture, this is one of the best sources. It shows how much we can try to feel at home at foreign places and yet seldom succeed. Always in our head,ethoncentristic with friendship as the only real link to the other world. Bowles stories often leave me breathless at the end. They build up so much hope, so much plasticity and leave you nothing when you turn the last page. But even if the aftertaste seems to be a bitter one, you get enchanted, you read the next story, you want more. Then something after ten or fifteen books you can't wait to take the next plane to Africa... In some sense Bowles can be related to the Beat literature. The only thing is that Bowles didn't move on. He stayed in Tanger and his view of the world got much sharper than the one of the other beats. His protagonists still like to travel, they are searching for something, but what they find is beyond their dreams. It is naked realism and so strong that the mind begins to spin... (Look for P.B - Let it come down) LIGHT A CANDLE, READ A SHORT STORY OF THIS MARVELOUS COLLECTION AND WATCH FOR RESULTS...

If the short story "garden" will not enchanten you you probably are in desperate need of some of that moroccon majoun.


The Delicate Prey
Published in Paperback by Ecco (November, 1990)
Author: Paul Bowles
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Outside Civilizations Walls
"Delicate Prey", the title story, is one of the most memorable stories I've ever encountered. This story of a young flute player and his uncles who are Arab traders crossing a remote desert region begins innocently enough but soon a stranger appears on the horizon who comes closer and closer. This desert episode is told with a perfect accumulation of atmospheric detail and just the barest amount of human detail to place this tale in the realm of myth. The tale involves many things that will later appear in Bowles' other short fictions including hashish and flute music and other things that will go unmentioned so as not to spoil their discovery by new readers. "At Paso Rojo" is a story set in South America on a ranch. There two sisters go after their mothers death to live with their brother. As the sisters settle in one sister especially decides she wants to live a freer life than women in the cities are allowed to live and she begins to allow herself liberties that shock her more conservative sister. As she rides through the wild jungle her horse bolts and the sensations she has impart to the reader that hers is no ordinary psychology. Used to suppressing her sexuality while her mother was alive she begins to explore her power as a woman and as events unfold we see that this power has sprouted something in her that cannot be mistaken for anything but pure evil. Every story in this collection presents striking locales and lurid acts. The appeal of them is partly in the exoticism of the locales and partly in the allure of the lurid. Bowles aesthetic is a strange one but his tales could not be delivered with any more force. The collection is dedicated to Poe, and appropriately so, but the depth of the psychological examination of different kinds of pathologies lend these stories a power that magnifies their effect beyond mere horror stories. They are stories of modern psyches with the superficial but protective veneer of civilization removed.

Strange, morbid and fascinating
Not everyone will enjoy thse weird stories mostly set in Mexico or Morocco. They contain violence and, in a way, sex, although sex is never explicitly described. They almost always end in disaster, sometimes grotesque and cruel disaster. The sexual element is never quite straight heterosexual attraction between consenting adults. A frequent plot is that someone is invited somewhere by a host who becomes hostile or takes a journey following an unreliable guide that ends badly. Think DH Lawrence, Joyce Carol Oates, Roald Dahl, Truman Capote and, as regards the prose style. maybe even Raymond Carver He is a minimalist with a way of bringing an exotic setting to life in half a sentence without an adjective or adverb. A remarkable thing is how long ago the stories were written and how modern the style seems.

A Stunning Collection!
This is a must-read for anyone interested in 20th century American literature. An absolutely stunning collection of tales that provoke, disturb and intoxicate the reader. Bowles writes in a style that is almost clinical: dry, precise and elegant, which accentuates the horrors he describes all the more. Hailed by such writers and Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer as a modern classic, you should not fail to read it if you have not already done so. And if enjoyed this title, check out The Sheltering Sky and Let it Come Down.

A Distant Episode
Published in Paperback by Ecco (February, 1996)
Author: Paul Bowles
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Tales of Those Away From Home
Bowles likes to place his characters in situations where all the usual comforts have been removed. So his locations are remote ones. South America and North Africa are two of his favorite. The characters in these stories are usually sensitive types and so are already fragile and impressionble but in the unusual settings those characterictics are even more evident and make them especially vulnerable. Bowles characters are travelers set against native cultures and in such conditions the traveler is always at a disadvantage because he has left behind those things which have served to stabilize his life. The traveler is merely adrift in the world, while the natives of the visited region have remained rooted to a very old culture. America itself is a very young culture, a colonial culture, and the authors that Bowles admired were those early colonial writers like Poe. Bowles in a way continues with Poe's themes of Americans lost in the untamed wilderness of themselves. But also in Bowles writing one can feel the influence of writers he was contemporary with like Camus, who also experienced colonialism as he was raised in North Africa under French rule. There is violence in Bowles work of many kinds but always along with the violence is some discovery about either an individual or about the nature of the world in general or both as the violent act often serves to strip away a characters long held illusions which kept a certain version of the world in place and reveal a more primitive more vital world beneath. The stories by and large take place in the mind of the traveling westerner, though one story is told through the eyes of an Arab. You can get a complete collection of Bowles stories for about twice the price but this collection contains all the stories he is known for including the title story and Delicate Prey, his two most famous.But there are at least a dozen stories here which once read will never be forgotten.

A Lost, Wondrous Hollowness
Paul Bowles will go down as the only writer of the soi-disant "Beat" generation worth a look at. In my opinion, of course, he ALREADY is the only one of them with a mote of talent. And what a talent it is!!-His style is original and inimitable. His writings convey a feeling totally unlike any other writer's....But what is it? The paradox is that since it's so original and unlike anything else, it's difficult to find words and comparisons to convey to the would-be reader why to buy this book. Almost all the reviews aver that Bowles' characters are defined by place. This is eminently the case. In fact, one might say that his characters are SO defined by place that they aren't really "characters" at all, but mere functions of the universes they find themselves in (rather harsh and bleak ones, to understate things a bit). -Reading these stories, you actually begin to lose a sense of self: YOUR self. That's how powerful Bowles' writing is. What you are left with is, of course, a hollowness, on the one hand, in finding that you have lost your sense of identity. But you have gained something: a lost wonder, beautiful and terrifying, of what existence, after all, is, that captures something of what a child feels at times. But the comparison with a child's view is to simplify things enormously. What you really gain, to put things perhaps a bit awkwardly, is the terror and wonder of being alive. The Greeks had a word for this feeling, Deinos. We don't have such a word, a word that so effectively combines the feelings of terror and wonder. - It's where we get the word dinosaur from, if that helps any.-But this may be beside the point. Just read the'll see...

Walking into the dark, sinister desert of perverse fantasy.
Reading these stories, set in North Africa where Bowles lived, is like like roaming some lonely alien landscape while being helplessly asaulted by feelings of dread, wonder, strangeness, and beauty. Lacking much descriptive prose,these stories are naked, simple, raw. Gradualy the self dissolves, the character's behaivor is so defined by their enviroment that they becme part of it . The reader, too, melts into the background. East and west colide violently, explode ; and nothing remains but the stark terror and magic of life. Own of Bowles best. A must forWilliam Burroughs fans too.

Hundred Camels in the Courtyard
Published in Paperback by City Lights Books (June, 1981)
Authors: Paul Bowles and Jack Bowles
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Bowles in altered states
From the preface: "Moroccan kif-smokers like to speak of "two worlds",the one ruled by inexorable natural laws, and the other, the kif world,in which each person perceives "reality" according to his own essence, the state of consciousness in which the elements of the physical universe are automatically rearranged by cannabis to suit the requirements of the individual."-Paul Bowles

Bowles immersion into the culture of North Africa has produced some of the most interesting literature. This scant collection of four stories is an attractive little book of inconsequential but readable tales. Just as Bowles studied and collected Moroccan music as a key into the North African mindset so here he studies kif as another kind of key, one that gives him direct access into the North African subconscious. Bowles sets forth in the introduction that these tales are put together making use of associations made while he was under the kif influence. ....the best parts to my ears are the hermetic sayings overheard by kif smokers. "The eye wants to sleep but the head is no mattress", "The earth trembles and the sky is afraid, and the two eyes are not brothers", "A pipe of kif before breakfast gives a man the strength of one hundred camels in the courtyard".
The folk simplicity of these tales is very appealing. Later Bowles will cover this terrain again when he works with Mohammed Mrabet transcripting that Moroccans oral tales. An excellent book by Mrabet/Bowles is M'Hashish(which means full of hashish). Happy happy reading.

A lesser known treasure of the Beat movement
There are two things that set this collection of short stories apart from other Beat movement literature. First, everyone of these stories, regardless of actual plot, includes the use of kif (marijuana). Secondly, this is one of the few true Beat works that is set outside of the American continent. In fact, it is more a collection of folk tales inspired by a merge of Jewish, Moslem, and European cultures. It was not unknown for the Beats to travel to such exotic places as Morocco. William Burroughs did a stint over there. But, the tales told here could have been written by a native, rather than an outsider who was merely visiting. Well worth the read!

Paul Bowles for Beginners
"A pipe of kif before breakfast gives a man the strength of a hundred camels in the courtyard." The proverb which opens this collection of stories lets us know where Bowles is coming from. Four short tales of Moroccan kif smokers open doors into worlds distant in time, space, and spiritual reality from millennial America. Bowles' style is distantly reminiscent of Hemingway in its bare simplicity, but also evocative of the South American magical realists in its exploration of the miraculous.

Each of his heroes is a kif smoker, and each finds it to be a useful and integral part of his life. Whether dealing with difficult neighbors in "A Friend of the World" or avoiding the cops in "He of the Assembly," smokers have a definite edge in Bowles' Morocco. But this is no simple paean--the stupid everyday troubles that also spring from kif are presented vividly and humorously (the soldier who loses his gun in "The Wind at Beni Midar" perfectly captures the zenith and nadir of chronic use). Short but satisfying, "A Hundred Camels in the Courtyard" makes an excellent introduction to Paul Bowles' work.

Literary Trips: Following in the Footsteps of Fame
Published in Paperback by (2000)
Authors: Victoria Brooks, Bob Shacochis, and Paul Bowles
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Follow in the footsteps of notable writers
Use literature and literary figures to follow in the footsteps of notable writers and their settings with the aid of a title which covers many destinations, from the Prague of Kafka to Steinbeck's California setting for Cannery Row. Add first-person reflections on the literature containing the settings and you have an excellent take-along or travel planner.

A superbly presented compendium
Literary Trips: Following In The Footsteps Of Fame is a superbly presented compendium of observations, adventures, and travels of and by some of the best loved writers as they trekked around the world. A magnificent armchair travelogue, Literary Trips is divided as the world is: Africa to Australasia (Paul Bowles, T. E. Lawrence, Rohinton Mistry, Bruce Chatwin); North America: West (Malcolm Lowry, The Beats, D. H. Lawrence, Garrison Keillor and Sinclair Lewis); North America: East (Tennessee Williams, Margaret Mitchell and Tom Wolfe, Ayn Rand, Mark Twain, Elizabeth Smart); Caribbean and Latin America (Ernest Hemingway, Ian Fleming and Noel Coward, John Stephens and Frederick Catherwood); Great Britain and Ireland (W. B. Yeats, Jane Urquhart and the Bronte Sisters, A. A. Milne, Agatha Christie and Jane Austen); Continental Europe (Knut Hamsun, The Lost Generation, Mary Shelley). Highly recommended for both school and community library collections, Literary Trips is enhanced for the reader with a section on biographies and a "user friendly" index. A novel and original feature of this publication is that any of the chapters are available as separate, individual e-texts and downloadable from the website.

Literary Trips: Following in the Footsteps of Fame
This is a book to savor in a cigar the corner of a jazz front of a softly crackling fire at home. Or in a hammock under a royal palm in the deep, deep south.

I started out by nestling with the book into our oversized, down-filled sofa - and ended up traveling through one of the best reads of my life. Several times, I startled my husband with cries of "No kidding...Wow...I didn't know that...Ohmigod..." as I discovered new places in the hearts of my favorite authors. And delved into the lives of others I knew little about.

Literary Trips probes into the past, yet is formatted for the present. We're all used to reading in chunks now - short, self-contained sections that are complete, independent modules. And this book is totally "today" in that respect. Each chapter, written by a different person, is a complete story - gift-wrapped with its own special signature. Each has its own flavor, its own style, its own finds. Every writer has unearthed amusing tidbits and lively tales that add richness and depth to well researched and beautifully written prose.

The book is also an excellent travel guide for following in those famous footsteps. Each module contains a practical reference section listing hotels and other stomping grounds of famous feet ("Literary Sites"; "Literary Sleeps"). Each section also describes how to get to those grounds and provides useful tips and background information.

My favorite parts are the little surprises throughout. For example, did you know that: §Hemingway dedicated his Nobel Prize for literature to the patron saint of the basilica in Santiago de Cuba? § Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond novels at Goldeneye, his home in Jamaica, and named 007 after the local author of a book on birds? §When Ayn Rand was writing Atlas Shrugged, which took 12 years, she didn't leave her apartment for an entire month?

Another of the book's delightful dimensions is a smattering of recipes that could form a menu for a literary memorial party. You could honor D.H. Lawrence with his dandelion wine; Hemingway with double daiquiris; Mistry with Dhansak; and Sinclair Lewis with his "Sinful Christmas Cookies".

I'm always looking for inspiration for my own writing, and Lit Trips provides it on many fronts. Much of it comes from seeing so many authors "under one cover" - an excellent way to compare styles, to link lives, to see how they made their magic. But I was no less inspired by the talent of the book's contributing writers.

Chocolate Creams and Dollars
Published in Hardcover by Distributed Art Publishers (February, 1993)
Authors: Mohammed Mrabet, Paul Bowles, and Paola Igliori
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A priceless peice of moroccan magic
Mrabet is a fantastic story teller.So good, in fact , that when his books first came out critics claimed they were written by Paul Bowles himself. Which isn't true, Bowles merely recorded and then translated the stories. This particular book is largley autobiographical, dealing with Mrabet's life trying to surrvive in his native land. We get a glimpse into the inner-workings of his mind and Morrocan culture as well with its exotic rituals, black magic, spells and anti-spells, and blurring of fantasy and reality. Mrabet lays down the line raw and simple, understateing much of the action, which makes the brutal, violent scenes all the more abrupt and shocking. It's eastern sensibilities slam up against our own western cultural perceptions and shatter them with a kind of quiet, primal delight. Every fan of Bowles needs to own this book.

A mystical journy into a middle-eastern mind
Paul Bowles, aclaimed author of The Sheltering Sky, actually recorded Mrabet's tales and then translated them. Being set in North Africa, and deriving from a tradition of oral story telling, this book is an exotic adventure. The stories are brutaly honest, often violent and startling ; peices of middle-eastern magic float up from every page. Writeing fom such a culturally different veiw point, Mbaret does an exellent job of takeing westeners into the unique mind-sets of his characters. Over all, an amazing journey if your mind is open enough to take it.

Love With a Few Hairs
Published in Paperback by City Lights Books (September, 1986)
Authors: Mohammed Mrabet and Paul Bowles
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A masterpiece!
It's been a long time since I have enjoyed a book as much as this one. This is 100% storytelling at its best, juts the plain story of teenage love between Mohamed and Mina. It happens in Tangier (Morocco) probably in the 50's, just after or before Morocco's indepedence. The end is amazing and I wont spoil it for you.

In many ways, Marbet's simple style reminded me of Richard Brautigan. But while Brautigan strives to be simple, Mrabet just does it as a matter of fact.

All told, it's brilliantly told
Mrabet is a Moroccan man who literally tells stories. The American author Paul Bowles (THE SHELTERING SKY, etc.) tapes these stories and translates them into English for us. Lucky us.

This debut novel (published when Mrabet was 25) certainly has the slightly rambling but totally captivating force that we expect from the oral tradition. The prose is utterly simple and almost child-like, but the deadpan tone merely underscores the brutal motivations and rather amoral goings-on in the novel. Fret not: There's sorcery, lust, bisexuality, violence and all sorts of other goodies in store.

Fans of Paul Bowles' short fiction, like A DISTANT EPISODE and PAGES FROM COLD POINT, will certainly know what I mean -- and will certainly not want to miss out on Mrabet. This man deserves to be a star.

Let It Come Down
Published in Paperback by Black Sparrow Press (January, 1981)
Author: Paul Frederic Bowles
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brilliant prose saves the day...
Paul Bowles can really write some lovely literature. The setting of his novels, Morocco circa 1950, simply comes alive. Thankfully in 'The Sheltering Sky' his writing ability is put to good use in a very moving story. Unfortunately in 'Let It Come Down' the author falls short, and doesn't attempt to express the human emotions found in 'The Sheltering Sky'. Having said this, most aspiring authors would kill to write anything as good as 'Let It Come Down'.

In 'Let It Come Down' we have a disillusioned young American escaping to Morocco and getting himself into all sorts of mischief. The characters he meets are bizarre yet most fascinating. It takes some 200+ pages, or two-thirds of the book, before the story takes any sort of direction. 'Let It Come Down' is touted as a thriller, and so you have some idea of what the last third of the book is about. If it wasn't for the author's ability to write fine prose with brilliant characterizations this book would be a dud. But instead it is a worthy read.

Bottom line: hardly the best from Paul Bowles, which means it is simply quite decent instead of excellent.

More excellent Bowles prose
-Another great book by Bowles. Not as interesting to me from a historical perspective as "The Spider's House," but in some ways a deeper penetration into the human soul. Deserves even more attention than it gets (and maybe even more than 'Sheltering Sky').

Bowles' best, unless you count Sheltering Sky ;)
When people ask me for my favorite Bowles novel, I say "Let It Come Down." Truthfully speaking, I've never been asked. "The Sheltering Sky" is moving and exploratory. But I think "Down" is its equal. I couldn't really say whether it's my favorite because it's better, or if by saying so I merely advertise that I am one of the cognoscenti.

(But am I the only one nonplussed by the ending, unlike with "Sky" or "The Spider's House"?)

The Stories of Paul Bowles
Published in Paperback by Ecco (03 June, 2003)
Author: Paul Bowles
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More Bowles is Always Better
Once you enter the smoky world of Bowles' winding alleys and doublespeaking faux guides, you won't remember how to get back to where you were before. Was is this turn? Behind that door?

Bowles is the Nazarene Holy man
A wind blows through Bowles stories. It is dark and harsh and speaks of all the buried things in the world. Populated by broken expats, syphillitics, kif heads, castraters, wanderers, the evil, the misguided, and the foolhardy, his stories are gorgeously dark fables with truly stunning morals. The screw will turn and turn and turn and it is only a matter of time before something bleeds.

For Paul Bowles fans-this is a "must have".
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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