Paul Bowles: A Life by Virginia Spencer-Carr

Paul Bowles was a polymath – composer (as shown above at the piano), author, traveler, and lover of both men and women. This is the story of Paul, his wife Jane, and their unusual life together.

Book cover: Paul Bowles: A Life by Virginia Spencer-Carr
Book cover: Paul Bowles: A Life by Virginia Spencer-Carr

Polymath, Renaissance man, bon vivant — Paul Bowles was all of these (and more).

Ask a literature student Who was Paul Bowles?” and you’ll likely hear “a well-respected American expatriate writer who lived much of his life in Morocco and whose works draw upon the material he gathered both from the locals and other expatriate artists with whom he came in contact”.

If you ask a music student and you might hear the same thing with the word “composer” substituted for “writer”.

Jane and Paul Bowles
Jane and Paul Bowles

Ask a lesbian/gay studies student and you’ll perhaps hear he was “the bisexual husband of author Jane Bowles who herself was a lesbian and greatly under-appreciated in her lifetime” (perhaps because of her limited output — one novel and one play). In fact, Paul and Jane were both bisexual.

Jane was plagued by alcohol problems and other neuroses and died relatively young. By contrast, Paul lived long enough to befriend the author, Virginia Carr. She drew out of him the details of his and Janes’s fascinating lives as they played out across multiple art forms and locales. [⇒ Excerpt

For a sample of Paul’s music — showing his typical rhythmic and jazzy style — click here.

print