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This extraordinary collection of correspondence by Paul Bowles spans eight decades and provides an evolving portrait of an artist renowned for his privacy. From his earliest extant letter, written at the age of four, to his precocious effusions to Aaron Copeland and to Gertrude Stein; from his meditations on mescaline as relayed to Ned Rorem, to his intensely moving letters to Jane Bowles during her illness, In Touch fills in the lacunae left by previous biographers and offers a rare look at the many aspects of Bowles's brilliant career—as composer, novelist, short-story master, travel writer, translator, ethnographer, and literary critic.
Here is Bowles on the genesis of his first novel, The Sheltering Sky; on his distaste for Western melodies and his dogged attempts to record indigenous Moroccan music; on the Beats, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, and Tennessee Williams; on the nature and craft of writing; on Bernardo Bertolucci, David Byrne, and Sting; on the decline of American and the challenges of living in North Africa. Gossipy, reflective, enlightening, and always entertaining, In Touch stands as an epistolary autobiography of one of the legendary writers of our time, and a unique chronicle of the twentieth-century avant-garde.
Expatriate American novelist, story writer and composer Bowles, who has lived in Morocco for nearly a half century, is a prolific letter writer, as attested to by his expansive, conversational correspondences with the likes of Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Gore Vidal and Virgil Thomson. A vast humming tableau of the avant-garde, these 400-plus letters extending from 1928 to 1991, vividly evoke Bowles's frenetic activity in the Paris of the 1930s and '40s, where he met Jean Cocteau, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and painter Pavel Tchelitchew. Peppered with firsthand impressions of Tennessee Williams, Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Schwitters, Aaron Copland and many others, the volume, edited by his biographer, also contains Bowles's sharp lyrical travel observations from Mexico to Ceylon, as well as his reflections on the unconscious processes that guide his writing of fiction. Most revealing are his letters to his wife Jane Bowles during her 16 years of suffering from a neurological disorder that destroyed her eyesight and led to strokes, convulsive seizures and electroshock therapy for depression. Photos.