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Without Stopping: An Autobiography

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  169 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Paul Bowles was born in Queens, New York, in 1910. He began his travels as a teenager, setting off for Paris, telling no one of his plans. In 1930 he visited Morocco for the first time, with Aaron Copland, with whom he was studying music. His early reputation was as a composer and he wrote the scores for several Tennessee Williams plays. Bowles married the writer Jane Auer ...more
Paperback, 377 pages
Published December 31st 1991 by Ecco Press (first published 1972)
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Oct 02, 2007 Baiocco rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who travel compulsively. People who namedrop.
Shelves: autobiography
I first came across Paul Bowles' writing in the liner notes of that Bonnie 'Prince' Billy/Matt Sweeney record "Superwolf", wherein Bowles wrote of the societal effects of Alcohol and Cannabis (the former loosening an individual's inhibitions towards participation, the latter reinforcing those inhibitions and furthering isolationism), on Western nations and Eastern(particularly Islamic) nations.

I thought he was just some cracked-out hippy, self-fashioned cultural critic, amateur anthropologist,
This book is only great if you are a Paul Bowles lover. The writing it good (of course) and the sentences are amazingly wry and pithy sometimes but he is not trying here for some outstanding work of autobiography. The narrative meanders and name-drops and lets you in on how and where he came about writing his greatest works. It is for that later point that I loved this book. Reading it on its own without having read Bowles would not probably be that great an experience but if you are already int ...more
Paul Bowles is an incredibly complex character. A composer who studied with Aaron Copland and was a close friend, (and with Henry Cowell, in the SF Bay Area)- an author, who was a contemporary and friend of Gertrude Stein, and as well, a friend and colleague of Kerouac, Corso, Burroughs, and Ginsberg. Not the least of his attraction, to me, was his time as resident expatriate-at-large and expert to the Rolling Stones glitterati set, encouched in fumes of hashish and plates of majoun, and, last b ...more
in "without stopping", paul bowles recounts the details of his extraordinary life like a man holding a garden-hose; looking down at the limp flow of water with as much enthusiasm as one has for giving a shrub a drink. he states: "writing an autobiography is an ungratifying occupation at best." he simply recalls his memories without aggrandizing.
the steady trickle of events is not without hilarious (though, still dead-panned) surprises: "during my childhood i had been good-natured and unusually
Dec 11, 2008 Chad rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers with safari nostalgia
Shelves: memoir
You can always find good bits in a good writer's writing memoir. Unfortunately, Bowles' autobiography spends more time between travel lists and gossipy paragraph-long anecdotes about all the famous writers and composers and artists he spent time with. Oddly tedious for a writer capable of the drugged out Moroccan cult scene in Let it Come Down. Still, I enjoyed his childhood recollections and bits like this scene with his wife, Jane:

In the spring we returned to Fez and stayed at the Belvedere. I
Actually really disappointing. Don't know what to say, other than I guess I expected something more. It's interesting from a documentary perspective, but one of the maddening things about Bowles for me is the utter inaccessibility of his person, as opposed to his writing. I get almost no sense of him from the introductions to his novels, his stories, from interviews; I feel like he is a total enigma, off having some profound experience somewhere and telling me to fuck off. Maybe that's why I fin ...more
Kevin Cole
I'm sorry I never read more of Bowles. I always admired his style, which is simple and cool, and when he's talking about places I'm interested in, like he does in this memoir, I can read right along. But I fear I was never much interested in the locations of his actual fiction. Maybe it's time to correct that.
One could rename this book, "Extensive travel and copious name-dropping." Still, it was good.
Hugely disappointing. Except for his childhood, which is brillaintly recounted, Paul Bowles reveals nothing of himself and his affective life. THe book becomes a list of who's who of the time and more like a travel journal. I suppose, being a homo/bi-sexual, he wanted to hide his private life but it is a pity that he undertook to write an autobiography at all. His novels are much more revealing , particularly 'Let it all Come Down' and the Sheltering Sky.'
The lack of cover image here is notable. This is not an easy book to find. All copies have been stolen from the New York Public Library. I got a used copy off ebay. It's very cliche that Jane Bowles nicknamed this book "Without Telling" because Bowles never explains why these gentlemen are traveling with him to Sri Lanka and Bangkok and Morocco and New York. That does very little to detract from the book, in my opinion. Bowles went everywhere and met everyone.
Gabrielle Gautieri
Hmmm...I wrote a review for Sheltering Sky, and now I can't remember if I was thinking correctly about that, or if I was remembering this one instead. I think I liked them both, and my memory of them both is that slow, long, dry kind of read, but not such as making me want to put the book down...
Interesting period autobiography of a well-off early quasi counter cultural expat, who via a well connected family knew lots of fascinating people from New York to Paris to his adopted outpost in Tangier, before Morocco became fashionable.
William Burroughs said this book should have been called " Without Telling." In theory this should have been a gossip ridden book galore. But alas, not in Bowles style. Worth a read and then read one of his biographies.
Alex Gleason
Truth, fiction, self-serving, evasive -- William Burroughs thought it should have been called Without Telling -- who cares? When it is this entertaining and well written, nothing else seems to matter all that much.
an incredible man; an incredible life.
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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 about Paul Bowles...
The Sheltering Sky Let it Come Down The Stories of Paul Bowles The Spider's House Collected Stories, 1939-1976

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“Although I knew enough Freud to believe that the sex urge was an important mainspring of life, it still seemed to me that any conscious manifestation of sex was necessarily ludicrous. Defecation and copulation were two activities which made a human being totally ridiculous. At least the former could be conducted in private, but the latter by definition demanded a partner. I discovered, though, that whenever I ventured this opinion, people took it as a joke.” 3 likes
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