Thursday, February 26, 2015

Jennifer Baichwal's 'Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles' (1998)

"Other people's indifference is the only horror." -- Paul Bowles (1948). 

Paul Bowles (1910-1999) and Jane (Auer) Bowles (1917-1973) led, by mainstream standards, bizarre lives. Jennifer Baichwal's Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles (1998) helps us catch glimpses, hear echoes and, particularly in the DVD extras, hear directly from Paul Bowles through a series of Baichwal's questions and Bowles' answers. The latter reminds me of Gore Vidal (1925-2012) in a way -- maybe it's the wry sense of humor.

Jane Bowles wrote fiction, letters and a play. A good place to start might be My Sister's Hand in Mine: The Collected Works of Jane Bowles, 2005. In Bernardo Bertolucci's The Sheltering Sky (1990), she's played memorably by Debra Winger; John Malkovich stands in for Paul Bowles, whose 1949 novel the movie is (more or less) based upon.

Paul Bowles had distinct periods in his life. Just to hit a few: in Paris with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, where one of his assigned responsibilities was to watch their pets. Still bitter about the pet-watching in his eighties, he quips: "I hate poodles anyway. I think they're revolting animals."

He was, too, a musician and composer, associated with Aaron Copeland and Tennessee Williams.

Then he settled permanently in Morocco, where he wrote several books and also did translation work. 

Jane Bowles was somewhat like Joan (Vollmer) Burroughs, whose second and final husband was William S. Burroughs -- both drank prodigiously and both died young (the latter at 28 years old, the former at 40).  

p.s. Caution: Artists on Board. 

Today's Rune: Separation (Reversed). 

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