cover image Too Far from Home: The Selected Writings of Paul Bowles

Too Far from Home: The Selected Writings of Paul Bowles

Paul Bowles. Ecco, $29.95 (697pp) ISBN 978-0-88001-295-9

For serious students of Bowles and for rank neophytes, this collection is a good buy. For others, probably not. The volume includes the complete text of The Sheltering Sky and excerpts from three other novels; several stories from The Delicate Prey and other collections; a smattering of poems; travel writing from Their Heads Are Green and Their Hands Are Blue ; some 50 pages from the autobiographical Without Stopping and another 20 from Days: Tangier Journal 1987-1989 and an interview with editor Halpern, whose brief preface recalls his early encounters with Bowles and their collaboration on the literary magazine Antaeus . There are also nine letters of a rather banausic turn, which may be why they have not been published until now. The main attraction is the title novella, written recently and first published here. It has all the makings of classic Bowles: an American brother and sister in Mali's Gao region face the country and themselves. But at some 35 pages, it is too short for Bowles to paint the cumulative portraits he is known for, and the dark fable at the story's heart is overwhelmed by such ultimately sterile devices as the sister's letters home and the brother's pseudo-flirtation with a French widow. (Feb.)