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Collected Stories, 1939-1976

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4.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  570 Ratings  ·  34 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 1979)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,006)
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Amari
Sep 09, 2007 Amari rated it it was amazing
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
Muna
Jul 12, 2008 Muna rated it it was amazing
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
Will
Jan 20, 2008 Will rated it it was amazing
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
Chris
This is the first collection of Paul Bowles' stories, published in 1979. Since then, he wrote more stories, and other collections have been issued, but this book launched Bowles to worldwide recognition.

It includes all the unforgettable seventeen stories from The Delicate Prey and Other Stories (1950). I have read that set several times and they always are fresh and shocking, in a good way. How did the best of these stories, "Pages from Cold Point," get past the censors in 1950? Read that one fo
...more
Suzi
Apr 22, 2008 Suzi rated it it was amazing
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
Tosh
Sep 29, 2007 Tosh rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 23, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
"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
Aug 16, 2010 Andy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kool-imports
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
Jan 28, 2008 olivia rated it it was amazing
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.
Jeff
Aug 16, 2015 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Paul Bowles was a bit of a polymath: a talented composer, much admired by Virgil Thomson and Aaron Copland, who showed promise in both classical and popular styles, who chose instead to focus on fiction, after the success of his novel The Sheltering Sky. I'll leave discussion of his complicated personal life to others, along with speculation on whether his wife Jane Bowles was the more talented author. These short stories give a sense of his powers as an author - lyrical, perverse, and utterly c ...more
Patrick McCoy
Sep 25, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
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
Dec 02, 2008 Lady R.E. Miller rated it really liked it
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
Nick Carnac
Oct 14, 2014 Nick Carnac rated it really liked it
Thoughtful lines from the frontiers of experience by the laconic understated Bowles, ever familiar with the mystery around us all....
Duc
Mar 19, 2015 Duc rated it really liked it
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
Sep 05, 2008 oh carlyn what key rated it it was ok
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
Oct 20, 2013 Clayton rated it it was amazing
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
May 10, 2013 Tina Marlene rated it really liked it
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
Jul 03, 2010 John Graham rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 21, 2009 Walter rated it really liked it
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.
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
Sep 07, 2011 John rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 01, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
Wow, not one review of this book. I have read about 20% of the stories in this book. Beautiful short stories.
alicatstrut
Jan 20, 2012 alicatstrut rated it it was amazing
These stories. They say the real things you feel dangling just beyond your grasp. They stick with you.
Jenny.p
May 08, 2008 Jenny.p rated it really liked it
Beautifully stark and quiet. Simple, yet provocative. Quite wonderful really...
Hans Eichinger
Dec 07, 2009 Hans Eichinger rated it it was amazing
Treacherous, often beautiful, and occasionally dissosiative... more later...
Craig
Feb 08, 2008 Craig rated it really liked it
Rad stories from the master. Stole a title of a story from here for an album.
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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,
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