Paul Bowles The Delicate Prey

ISBN 13: 9780141195827

The Delicate Prey

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9780141195827: The Delicate Prey

Paul Bowles’s classic collection of short stories, available in a deluxe paperback edition—part of Ecco’s Art of the Story series.

“All the tales are a variety of detective story,” wrote Bowles of this, his first short story collection, “in which the reader is the detective; the mystery is in the motivation for the characters’’ behavior.” In such stories as “A Distant Episode” and How Many Midnights,” Bowles pushes human character beyond socially defined limits and maps a transformed (often horribly transformed) reality.

Bowles captures the duality of human frailty and cruelty in these seventeen taut and atmospheric tales, written between 1939 and 1949. Brutal and gorgeous, visceral yet perceptive, this timeless collection is “one of the most profound, beautifully wrought, and haunting collections in our literature. . . at once austere, witty, violent, and sensuous. . . . His language has a purity of line, a poise and authority entirely its own, capable of instantly modulating from farce to horror without a ruffle” (Tobias Wolff).

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Review:

Paul Bowles once said that a story should remain taut throughout, like a piece of string. That tense, stretched tone is the key to this collection of 17 eerie tales by the author best known for The Sheltering Sky. The Delicate Prey is dedicated: "For my mother, who first read me the stories of Poe." If Poe had lived in Mexico, and he'd had ice water running in his veins to counteract his feverish romanticism, he might have crafted something like these odd vignettes about human frailty and cruelty. The setting is a world where palm trees are like "shiny green spiders," where bats reel silently overhead in a jet-black sky, where a hot, relentless wind blows across deserted plazas.

As Tobias Wolff writes in Esquire, "The Delicate Prey is in fact one of the most profound, beautifully wrought, and haunting collections in our literature.... Bowles's tales are at once austere, witty, violent, and sensuous. They move with the inevitability of myth. His language has a purity of line, a poise and authority entirely its own, capable of instantly modulating from farce to horror without a ruffle."

From the Back Cover:

From master storyteller Paul Bowles comes a new addition to ecco's the art of the story series—"essential reading" for any witness to the magic of the short form, writes vendela vida

All the tales are a variety of detective story," writes Bowles of this, his first short story collection, "in which the reader is the detective; the mystery is in the motivation for the characters' behavior." In such stories as "A Distant Episode" and "How Many Midnights," Bowles pushes human character beyond socially defined limits, mapping a transformed—often horribly transformed—reality. 

Bowles captures the duality of human frailty and cruelty in these seventeen taut and atmospheric tales, written between 1939 and 1949. Brutal and gorgeous, visceral and profound, this timeless collection is "one of the most profound, beautifully wrought, and haunting collections in our literature... at once austere, witty, violent, and sensuous....His language has a purity of line, a poise and authority entirely its own, capable of instantly modulating from farce to horror without a ruffle" (Tobias Wolff).

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