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Conversations with Paul Bowles

Conversations with Paul Bowles

Edited by Gena Dagel Caponi
Series: Literary Conversations Series

Paperback : 9780878056507, 286 pages, November 1993

Collected interviews with the author of The Sheltering Sky, Let It Come Down, and The Spider's House


For the past forty years, Paul Bowles has answered questions about the autobiographical references in his novels (The Sheltering Sky, Let It Come Down, The Spider's House, and Up Above the World) and about his work as a composer in New York, all the time insisting, "I don't want anyone to know about me."

In these more than twenty interviews dating from 1952 to the present, Bowles gives a variety of answers that reveal as much as they conceal. Too gracious to refuse interviews, he regards inquiries with the same clear-eyed detachment that marks his prose, wondering, "Why is it that Americans expect an artist's work to be a reflection of his life? They never seem to want to believe that the two can be independent of each other and go their separate ways." Despite his reticence, Bowles frankly discusses his "unconscious" writing practice, his views on the "illiterate imagination," existentialism, his various experiments with altered states of consciousness, and nearly fifty years of expatriate life in Morocco.

Included are three interviews never before published, several interviews that originally appeared in now obscure journals, plus interviews by Jay Mclnerny for Vanity Fair, Jeffrey Bailey for The Paris Review, and Michael Rogers for Rolling Stone.


"Interest in the work of Paul Bowles and in the man himself does not appear to be appreciably declining. Caponi undertakes one further attempt to satiate readers' appetite with a collection of interviews dating from the early 1950s to 1990. The redundant aspect of repeated interviews with the same subject is tempered by Bowles' capacity over the years to give distinctively different responses to similar questions. His great regard for language crops up again and again, along with fascinating insights into such facets of Moroccan culture as dance cults and magic spirits. Perhaps Bowles' mesmerizing conversational dexterity is the one constant here."

- Alice Joyce, Booklist