Collected Stories, 1939-1976
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Collected Stories, 1939-1976

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4.4 of 5 stars 4.40  ·  rating details  ·  476 ratings  ·  31 reviews
The publication by Black Sparrow in 1979 of Paul Bowles' Collected Stories sparked the rediscovery of Bowles' works that has brought world renown to the American expatriate writer, for decades resident in Tangier, Morocco. Gore Vidal's Introduction to this large collection remarks "His stories are among the best ever written by an American".
Paperback, 417 pages
Published June 30th 1983 by Black Sparrow Press (first published June 15th 1978)
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Muna
Hideous and horrifying. If you aren't yet scared of Arabs, this'll do the trick. In truth, if you haven't yet learned to be afraid of all people and simultaneously in awe of their beauty, Paul Bowles can show you the way.

The following is lifted from "The Sheltering Sky" and were some of the first words I heard that made me reckon with mortality:

"Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that terrible prec...more
Amari
stunning. some of these stories really approach perfection. i read many of them about 10 years ago, but i reread every last one this summer and found no fault with any of them. bowles' tendency toward a concomitant sensitivity and roughness is irresistible, and i am very attracted by his ability to write about cultures that are not his own without setting up the "us-them" dichotomy which is the downfall of so much travel writing (fictional and non-). in fact, bowles often does use an "us-them" d...more
Suzi
Apr 22, 2008 Suzi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: doreen nidey
If you want a taste of Paul Bowles that's wonderful and disturbing... read his collection of short fiction. His genius is in taking us away from what we feel is normal--our preconceptions of who were are--to ourselves and to the ones we love. What happens when human beings are in a totally alien world. where one cannot assume anything, let alone the direction the breezes blow at night and through your room. And what pestilence and open sore and medieval stasis awaits around the next bend? Always...more
Will
Beautiful, just beautiful. And scary. The best in here, to me, are "A Distant Episode," "The Fourth Day Out from Santa Cruz," and "Pastor Dowe at Tacate." Three of my all-time favorite short stories, and they're all in this one, beautifully bound book. Amazing.

I love the sense of alienation that Bowles's characters evince. These stories all feel cold and frightening, yet beautiful. Many of them proceed through a sort of dreamy reality that makes the pacing seem ethereal at times, like a dream,...more
Tosh
Paul Bowles is a very cold creepy writer. And that's what makes him wonderful. The unique way he reads 'culture' outside of the European/American existence is both fascinating and superb at the same moment. An unusual writer in a rather special time in literary history.

I much prefer his short stories than his novels. I just like his concrete intense energy in telling of these strange tales. The Beats had a great admiration for Bowles, because I think he traveled not only locations, but also head...more
David
"The Delicate Prey" may very well be the most perfect short story I've ever read, whatever the hell that means. I guess that every word not only sounds and feels and looks as if it belongs but that the story as a whole is one I simply cannot forget and will always reference as a model short story--that impossible moment when the way I read, what and whom I read, was forever changed.
Andy
One of my favorite collections of short stories. There are times when Bowles dispenses with traditional story conventions, as in there are no heroes or villains, some stories never reach a resolution, some don't even have a moral to them. All I know is once you've read "A Distant Episode" your life will never be the same.
olivia
I feel that Bowles is at his best when he pens short stories. He really knows how to condense suspense and tense scenarios into a few pages, usually leaving you unsettled. Wonderful.
Patrick McCoy
The Collected Short Stories of Paul Bowles: this collection certifies Bowles brilliance. I have enjoyed his novels, but these fascinating short stories reveal him to be one of the greatest American writers of the century, perhaps the most under-rated American writer. I like the fact that his stories are often set in exotic locals like Morocco, S. America, Mexico, and Thailand. He is also good with stories about expats as well as those written form the point of view of locals, some of these stori...more
R.
Jul 17, 2014 R. marked it as to-read
Shelves: unfinishedreads
Just got tired of the "Arab bandits are sinister, American tourists are stupid, the Moroccan nights are sultry, the marketplace tea is hot and bitter blah blah blah..."

Maybe it's because Bowles was a composer first and foremost that his writing comes across as, I dunno, subliminally mathematical - lots of dots of 1s and 0s are connected until, I dunno, he typed THE END. Maybe some other time, but not right now. I'd bet dollars to donuts his novels are better, but this collection is just Humorle...more
Lady R.E. Miller
I'm not in love with every single story in this collection; in fact, there are a few I think are really mediocre. However, some of them are so damn good it just makes the whole thing worth it. "How Many Midnights?" is one of them. It's one of the strangest scary stories I've ever read -- b/c truly nothing happens. Every time I read it I try to work out how Bowles managed to convey such horror -- he did it so subtly it's almost impossible to figure out. That story sticks in my head as much as any...more
Duc
Best stories:
Delicate Prey
Pages from Cold Point
Circular Valley - Similar to Jorge Luis Borges'Circular Ruin. It is about a spirit which enters human being because it was curious. The spirit feels the emotions of being human.

A linguist meets his ironic tragedy.
Some of the stories are written on a ship traveling to other continents. Bowles wrote them for personal amusement.
oh carlyn what key
okay look i am a sucker for short stories, and even though a lot of people consider bowles one of the premier beat writers, i resisted this collection because i couldn't get into shletering sky and thought he was just kind of boring. i can't say my opinion changed too terribly much, although the delicate prey was a horrifying read and a few of the other stories were upsetting, which i like. all in all i give this a "meh".
Clayton
each story reads like a memory. many of the stories have a disturbing realness to them.. a rare quality in fiction. I read this book slower than any other book of mine since the weight of each story could only be felt if I took a break after each one to let the story sink into me.
Tina Marlene
Very strange, creepy, isolating, intelligent stories that will stay in your head until you die! And, guess what? The sky and the land and the water and the fire and the entire universe won't give a damn that you are dead or alive.
John Graham
This is probably the best collection of short stories ever produced. The breadth of subjects, the beauty of the prose, and the lingering effects of the stories keep me returning to the wonderful book.
Walter
Bowles is a master of the short story; of any short story writer he’s the only one that’s stayed with me since reading him. So much so that he was calling out to be read again.
Leopoldine
Really scary stories. At first, what he does seems like nothing, but then the writing gets swift and beautiful. Read "The Hours After Noon" first. The dialogue is often perfect.
Suzanne
Mar 25, 2008 Suzanne is currently reading it
Recommended to Suzanne by: Laura
I read a couple more stories on my trip this weekend, and this book is pretty good, but hard to read because most of the protagonists are complete assholes!
John
Bowles is an author that you just wish he had written more or that someone found some new undiscovered manuscript he left somewhere in Morocco. Pure genius.
Andrew
great collection of short stories from all over the world. interesting style in that you're not always sure where or when the story is taking place
Scott
Jun 10, 2008 Scott is currently reading it
The "Delicate Prey" and "A Distant Episode" are stories that no person could ever forget. I've never read such brutal, icy violence.
Amy
Wow, not one review of this book. I have read about 20% of the stories in this book. Beautiful short stories.
alicatstrut
These stories. They say the real things you feel dangling just beyond your grasp. They stick with you.
Jenny.p
Beautifully stark and quiet. Simple, yet provocative. Quite wonderful really...
Hans Eichinger
Treacherous, often beautiful, and occasionally dissosiative... more later...
Craig
Rad stories from the master. Stole a title of a story from here for an album.
Dave
Oct 07, 2011 Dave marked it as to-read
Actually i've taken a time out on this one to read a bunch of others.
Zachary
intelligent. engaging. unsettling. perfect stories.
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Paul Bowles grew up in New York, and attended college at the University of Virginia before traveling to Paris, where became a part of Gertrude Stein's literary and artistic circle. Following her advice, he took his first trip to Tangiers in 1931 with his friend, composer Aaron Copeland.

In 1938 he married author and playwright Jane Auer (see: Jane Bowles). He moved to Tangiers permanently in 1947,...more
More about Paul Bowles...
The Sheltering Sky Let it Come Down The Stories of Paul Bowles The Spider's House The Delicate Prey and Other Stories

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