Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Tid-Bit on Literature. . .Not P O L I T I C S

For a break from politics, I thought that I would mention that I am presently obsessing with getting a hold of copies of two books by one of my favorite writers, Paul Bowles, the great ex-pat writer. Bowles spent a great deal of time traveling Europe, N Africa and Latin America (and India, and. . ., and. . .) during the '30s, '40s, '50s, and a bit in the '60s, after which he settled down mostly in Tangiers, I believe. But whatever be the case, he is an interesting essayist and novelist whose writing makes him the wanderer's wanderer.

(Note: There is a difference, to my mind, between a wanderer or traveler and a tourist; the former stays put in a place for a while before moving on and often will learn to do things the way the native does them, and thus gets a more genuine picture of how things really are, while a tourist of course just rapidly zips in and out, with the approach toward movement somewhat akin to the riders in the tour de france).

I have often read Bowles while I was myself a wanderer, and I am really hankering to read him again right now, for some reason. Chances are slim that I will find any of his books anywhere here, in eastern Europe, that is. Zhal.

Thus I would endeavor to quote him, but can't--no books at hand. But I will recall here how I discovered Bowles. I had heard lots about him from friends around me, but never picked up any of his books. However, in the summer of 1995, I think, I was a hippie kid with long hair turning into dreadlocks driving a VW bus that was stuck in Denver, Colorado, for a week. I was waiting to get started on a contract job that I landed through my father, a good Ukrainian-American businessman who didn't much care for the long hair, nor the VW, nor the leftist politics and hippie-hygeine of his son at the time! While waiting in Denverto start the job and squatting in a house full of hippies and other wanderers, I found a local counterculture coffeehouse that had copies of two Bowles books, The Sheltering Sky and Their Heads are Green and Their Hands are Blue. I would recommend that you pick up both these books, if I have at all peaked your interest. The first is a novel based on, it would seem, autobiographical moments during his travels in N Africa, and the second is a selection of writings from the journal he kept as he wandered N Africa as part of a Smithsonian-funded project collecting N African music in the late 1940s.

And to read more about Paul Bowles, check this out.

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