The Sheltering Sky
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The Sheltering Sky
Paul Bowles
Literature
Jul 29, 2018
The Sheltering Sky is the story of a New York married couple, Port and Kit Moresby, who bear some resemblance to Bowles and his brilliant, troubled wife, Jane, whose long physical and mental decline would occupy the author for years. Traveling in the Sahara with a friend, hoping the journey will impart some emotional momentum to their inert relationship, the Moresbys fall further and further away from each other, both losing themselves in a kind of primal surrender. The extremes of detachment and mortification Bowles’s characters pursue and endure give their story the horrific beauty and otherness that other eras might have found in the lives of the saints. His unsaintly couple, neither holy nor blessed, lead our thoughts toward first and last things with an eerie surety.
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This novel began for me a lifelong mad love for everything by Paul Bowles: his other three novels, letters, and short stories. Perhaps no other author can evoke such tension between horror and beauty, and bring to life the culture and landscapes of North Africa.
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