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An Invisible Spectator: A Biography of Paul Bowles

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"Filled with insights into an enigma" ("USA Today"), "An Invisible Spectator" chronicles Paul Bowles's life and work--interwoven with vivid depictions of the writer's intimates, including Truman Capote, Gertrude Stein, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs. "Filled with insights into an enigma" ("USA Today"), "An Invisible Spectator" chronicles Paul Bowles's life and work--interwoven with vivid depictions of the writer's intimates, including Truman Capote, Gertrude Stein, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs.


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"Filled with insights into an enigma" ("USA Today"), "An Invisible Spectator" chronicles Paul Bowles's life and work--interwoven with vivid depictions of the writer's intimates, including Truman Capote, Gertrude Stein, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs. "Filled with insights into an enigma" ("USA Today"), "An Invisible Spectator" chronicles Paul Bowles's life and work--interwoven with vivid depictions of the writer's intimates, including Truman Capote, Gertrude Stein, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs.

30 review for An Invisible Spectator: A Biography of Paul Bowles

  1. 4 out of 5

    Edita

    The only effort worth making is the one it takes to learn the geography of one’s own nature. But there is seldom enough energy for that. One must accept one’s own limitations as one accepts life and death, pain and pleasure. Only then can these natural defects be utilized to their fullest extent. Resistance cripples.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Vel

    v good companion to his autobiography

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eric Steere

    Sawyer-laucanno 's is the second biography I have read on twentieth century cult literary figure, composer, and permanent ex-pat Paul Bowles. This lengthy treatment of Bowles' personality and literary contributions focuses, in a chronologically determined approach, on the literary and artistic development and output of this famously reticent adventurer and later recluse. With An Invisible Spectator, we are granted access to an impressive volume and selection of correspondence, interviews and col Sawyer-laucanno 's is the second biography I have read on twentieth century cult literary figure, composer, and permanent ex-pat Paul Bowles. This lengthy treatment of Bowles' personality and literary contributions focuses, in a chronologically determined approach, on the literary and artistic development and output of this famously reticent adventurer and later recluse. With An Invisible Spectator, we are granted access to an impressive volume and selection of correspondence, interviews and collaborations. The result is a full account of Bowles' life and the development of his craft. Largely because Bowles often retreated from the phenemonoligical universe through a combination of his solitude and kif (Moroccan hashish) he engaged with his psychologically unsettling fictive worlds and art at the expense of living . With the temporal overlap of my two favorite twentieth-century American writers, Bowles and Capote, the stunning worlds apart. Indulgent and thirsty public persona of the latter to the reclusive austerity of Bowles, richness and tender color of Capote against the sparing razor of Paul's traumatic prose. The NY based hedonist and the American ex-pat non plus ultra, who vowed never to return to New York and spent his last 37 years in Tangiers, occasionally receiving visitors on the Marrakech Express with ambivalence. Bowles autobiography Without Stopping is as personally vacant as his fiction; he is impenetrable by accounting for his own life. The other biography of which I am acquainted is the much more personal and conservative gonzoish record by Millicent Dillon, who, looking like Jane Bowles (Paul's late wife) , enters the fray in her own more personal encounters with Bowles. Sawyer-Laucanno is impressive in his sheer comprehensive definition his productions and works, but leaves Paul behind. Instead Sawyer-Laucanno provides a narrative of "the quintessential artist, sacrificing life for art" and his experiential encounters transforming lived experience with art. He also rightfully attributes the marginalization of Paul Bowles' work to his own particular post colonial and peripheral perspectives, subjects, and locations. He wasn't with the New York crowd, but towards of the end of his life was increasingly involved with translations of Arabic stories and texts. Though long, this book is testament, especially in its deficiencies, to the high seriousness that Bowles placed in his art and the sharp and discerning character behind it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    aya

    it must be incredibly difficult to write a biography about someone so famously reticent and repressed, emotion-wise. in some ways, it makes this biography difficult to read, because it makes it seem as if the author is glossing over the major emotional events in Bowles' life and instead getting bogged down in minutiae. it also feels as if the biography may be colored by the fact that bowles was still alive when he wrote it. whether it was these issues or perhaps the writing just wasn't vivid, i it must be incredibly difficult to write a biography about someone so famously reticent and repressed, emotion-wise. in some ways, it makes this biography difficult to read, because it makes it seem as if the author is glossing over the major emotional events in Bowles' life and instead getting bogged down in minutiae. it also feels as if the biography may be colored by the fact that bowles was still alive when he wrote it. whether it was these issues or perhaps the writing just wasn't vivid, i never felt like i was in bowles' world and was coming to understand him. still, bowles lead a fascinating enough life to make up for much of the distance that is kept between him and the reader. it is a good biography to learn about the events in his life, etc. but not as much to learn about the man himself.

  5. 4 out of 5

    R.J. Gilmour

    Writing about such things is a way of keeping the evil outside, away from me. Paul Bowles, An Invisible Spectator (London: Paladin/Grafton, 1989), 37. There will come a day of reckoning... All this pleasure will have to be paid for, and it will be terrible. Paul Bowles, An Invisible Spectator (London: Paladin/Grafton, 1989), 60. Like any romantic, I had always been vaguely certain that sometime during my life I should come into a magic place which in disclosing its secrets would give me wisdom and ec Writing about such things is a way of keeping the evil outside, away from me. Paul Bowles, An Invisible Spectator (London: Paladin/Grafton, 1989), 37. There will come a day of reckoning... All this pleasure will have to be paid for, and it will be terrible. Paul Bowles, An Invisible Spectator (London: Paladin/Grafton, 1989), 60. Like any romantic, I had always been vaguely certain that sometime during my life I should come into a magic place which in disclosing its secrets would give me wisdom and ecstasy-perhaps even death. Paul Bowles, An Invisible Spectator (London: Paladin/Grafton, 1989), 119. You must watch the universe as it cracks over your head. Paul Bowles, An Invisible Spectator (London: Paladin/Grafton, 1989), 299. He was a savage fanatic, a sentimental cynic, hedonist in his ascetiscism... Paul Bowles, An Invisible Spectator (London: Paladin/Grafton, 1989), 321.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carol Masciola

    Definitive and beautifully written bio of composer and novelist Paul Bowles, from his beginnings as the only son of a mean-spirited dentist and a weak mother in New York state, to his sudden success with his first novel, The Sheltering Sky. He was unusually brilliant and versatile and macabre. A lot in this book about his unusual relationship with his wife Jane, who was also a writer, albeit of scant output. They were both gay and rarely lived together, and she died young of a stroke brought on Definitive and beautifully written bio of composer and novelist Paul Bowles, from his beginnings as the only son of a mean-spirited dentist and a weak mother in New York state, to his sudden success with his first novel, The Sheltering Sky. He was unusually brilliant and versatile and macabre. A lot in this book about his unusual relationship with his wife Jane, who was also a writer, albeit of scant output. They were both gay and rarely lived together, and she died young of a stroke brought on by alcoholism. Bowles consorted with all sorts of cultural notables, from musical mentor Aaron Copeland to Gertrude Stein to Tennessee Williams to Allen Ginsberg and the Beat writers. The book covers his travels all over the world and his long residence in Morocco, where he died in 1999.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Frank

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joan

  9. 5 out of 5

    ninamo

  10. 4 out of 5

    Undreya

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ed

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

  13. 5 out of 5

    The Baron

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marty Garcia

  16. 4 out of 5

    Angus Macdonald

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lynell

  18. 5 out of 5

    Simon Bate

  19. 4 out of 5

    Heath

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jo Abiertas

  21. 4 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  26. 4 out of 5

    Toby

  27. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra Lexton-metzner

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rob Couteau

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