Paul Bowles in Exile – Jay McInerney

“As the faithful poured into the mosque for prayer, I searched for the door to a restaurant reputedly just across the street and tried to seem inconspicuous. It was my second night in Tangier. Men in dark robes huddled on the street corners, lowering their voices as I approached. The few women in evidence were upholstered in black from head to foot and looked like bandit nuns. I came upon an entrance gate at which two men in djellabas were either lounging or standing guard. I tentatively pronounced the name of my destination. They looked at each other, nodded, and ushered me inside. Even as I stepped forward I was thinking that they were too unkempt and uninviting to be doormen, and that the building before me was too dark and sinister for a public place. But I was committed. Advancing into the murky courtyard I heard the two men, both very large for Moroccans, hissing behind me. I recognized the situation immediately. It had all the ingredients of a Paul Bowles story. I never found out what the hissing was about. The older of the two men caught up with me and led the way to the restaurant. I was relieved but vaguely disappointed, and later recalled something Bowles had said during the day: What can go wrong is always much more interesting than what goes right. Paul Bowles’s sense of what can go wrong is as acute as that of any American writer since Poe. In ‘A Distant Episode,’ one of his best known stories, a professor of linguistics in search of new dialects ventures beyond the walls of a desert town one night and descends into a valley settlement -‘an abyss’- realizing as he does that ‘he ought to ask himself why he was doing this irrational thing.’ He proceeds nonetheless, only to be set upon by nomadic tribesmen who beat him, cut out his tongue, and dress him up in strings of flattened tin cans to serve as a jester, an object of amusement. …”
Stranger in Tangier: Paul Bowles Under The Sheltering Sky (Video)
Analysis of Paul Bowles’s Novels
amazon: The Stories of Paul Bowles by Paul Bowles

Gregory Corso, Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Tangier

About 1960s: Days of Rage

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