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.
The complete cast of narrators includes: Nicola Barber, Joe Barrett, Victor Bevine, Robert Blumenfeld, Kevin T. Collins, Jonathan Davis, Lameece Issaq, Peter Ganim, Gayle Hendrix, Nick Pauling, Elisabeth Rodgers, Eileen Stevens, Suzanne Toren, and Marc Vietor.
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Mesmerizing and beautifully produced
I actually have already listened to some of the stories over again. I cannot add too much to all that has been said about Bowles, but this is a great survey, and my introduction, really, to him as a short story writer. I could not take my headphones off!
It was a whalloping dose of humor, misery and careful observation. I dreamt differently after hearing this collection.
The narrator was a whole repertory company! WHAT a treat! It really added texture and variety to the stories and the selection of voices to stories was made by a very astute person, indeed.
There is a harrowing story - just awful - that can be described, at first, as picaresque, about a naive English philologist embarking on field work in Africa and it all turning very very unexpected, indeed, within 12 hours of arriving. I could barely stand the story, but will never forget a moment of it.
A perfect dream of a book. Absolutely a show-stopper!
- D. Donohue
The atmosphere of the countries comes through