Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Bowles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bowles. Show all posts

16 January, 2012

Paul Bowles, "Call at Corazón"

It is funny that this story is also about honeymooners on a trip. This time on the Amazon River in a couple of boats. I first watched the short film and then read the short story. The film follows the story almost exactly. The author gives a short talk before the start of the film and he says that it is possibly about revenge and counter revenge--I think that's the way he put it. The wife ends up going on a drunken binge and having sex with another man. The husband leaves her behind and catches a train as she runs after. Paul Bowles said that this event really happened to him. His wife, Jane, was indeed an alcoholic and prone to so-called mis-behaving, which all women should do more often. LOL

Written in 3rd person. "Call at Corazón" is included in Too Far From Home: The Selected Writings of Paul Bowles.

"You don't know what a bore you are when you try to be caustic."

"You can never enter into the spirit of a thing, can you?"

Wikipedia, Ciénaga, Magdalena
Paul Bowles web site
Wikipedia, Bowles

20 November, 2011

Jane Bowles, "Camp Cataract"

"Camp Cataract" is written in close shifting 3rd person point of view. Mostly it goes back and forth between Harriet and Sadie, sisters. This is an odd story with slightly crazy main characters. They are eccentric or dysfunctional or just stunted, I'm not sure which or at all. Harriet has been "sent" away to convalescent camp; Sadie comes to visit despite the fact that all family is supposed to stay away for the duration of Harriet's stay. Sadie has an unhealthy attraction and need to be near her sister. The story starts with a letter begging Harriet not to get wanderlust.

Sadie drowns herself in the cataract at Camp Cataract. It's as though just too much was always rushing down upon and around Sadie and Harriet as well. Neither knew how to take charge of her life being too worried about people's opinions and judgments. Their family is one of those that brings out the very worst in every member. Poison.

The fake Indian at the souvenir shop is really an Irishman in dark make-up. This story has a surreal feel about it. A few other characters are sprinkled around the story and despite that most the story takes place at a camp, it feels fairly desolate helping contribute to the claustrophobic sense I felt between Sadie and Harriet. And, the employees of the camp never really seemed like employees. Were they "acting" like employees? The only one I thought really was an employee, the souvenir shop Indian, was in make-up and costume.

According to this website [] "Camp Cataract" was first published in Harper's Bazaar in 1949.

"'Do you think Camp Cataract smacks of the gutter,' she asked a minute later."

16 November, 2011

Jane Bowles, "Plain Pleasures"

John Drake and Alva Perry find each other after living in the same tenement building for eleven years. They are both fearful little creatures afraid to venture forth. They both have siblings who are diametrically opposed in that regard. This story is hilarious but poignant with their painful lack of social skills.

From the little I've read about Jane Bowles, it seems that she never received much positive feedback about her stories. I find "Plain Pleasures" delicate and funny. Truman Capote wrote the introduction to Bowles's collection, My Sister's Hand in Mine: The Collected Works of Jane Bowles.

"I've got to get home some time so I can get up tomorrow morning."

"The wine was contributing to this sudden aggressiveness, for it was not usually in his nature to make any effort to try to get what he wanted."

"But I am not a mashed-potato masher and I never have been."

"...coming upon her sister's string of beads, she pulled them out and laid them in her gravy."

I would like to see this documentary: Traces of Sand and Water: The Lives of Jane and Paul Bowles by Javier Martin.

some biography
some biography
Jewish Women's Archive
On the Fringe, Boston University, festival honoring Jane and Paul Bowles, 2010

13 November, 2011

Paul Bowles, "The Delicate Prey"

"The Delicate Prey," written in 1950 takes place in southwestern Algeria where two Filala (Berber) brothers and a nephew were selling their leather goods in Tabelbala and then decided to head to Tessalit (Mali) but had to traverse the dangerous lands next to the plunderers, the Reguibat tribes. Driss, the young nephew, plans to have any girl he wants wherever they happen to be. And, at the end of the story, indeed, the Reguibat have any person they want also. The story is about power, trust, identity and the assumptions made about that supposed identity, revenge, prey and preyed upon, and the violent ends to which men will go.

My interest in Paul Bowles has been renewed having learned that Gertrude Stein was the one who first suggested to Bowles that he go to Morocco.  

FAVORITE LINE: "The camels lay with their necks stretched along the ground in front of them."

The story is written in a limited third person shifting point of view. It is only 8 pages long.

Paul Bowles, bibliography