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Yesterday's Perfume: An Intimate Memoir of Paul Bowles.

Nutting, Cherie.

Published by Crown Publishing, New York, 2000
ISBN 10: 0609605739 / ISBN 13: 9780609605738
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Yesterday's Perfume: An Intimate Memoir of ...

Publisher: Crown Publishing, New York

Publication Date: 2000

Edition: First Printing of the First US Edition


A Fine tight copy in a Fine unclipped dust jacket. Cherie Nutting writes of her fifteen year friendship with Paul Bowles and her life in Morocco. Nutting had unprecedented access to Bowles and recorded in her journal their numerous conversations and the events of everyday life. Interwoven with her narrative are excerpts from Bowles previously unpublished writings, diary fragments, dreams, and brief stories. Richly illustrated with photographs. Catalog Creme. Bookseller Inventory # 21855

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Synopsis: Fifteen years ago, Cherie Nutting returned to Morocco. She had first visited it as a child with her mother, and the images of mystery and the desert had stayed with her, fueled over the years by accounts of expatriate life and by the literature created there. In Tangier again, she met the most famous of the expatriates and author of the classic The Sheltering Sky. Cherie became a friend of Paul Bowles and part of his circle. Over the years, the friendship deepened and widened.

Yesterday's Perfume is a memoir of that friendship and of Cherie's love of Morocco. She had unparalleled access to Paul, and recorded, journal-like, their conversations and the events of everyday life. Interwoven among Cherie's narrative are bits and pieces of Paul's previously unpublished writings -- diarylike fragments, retellings of dreams, little stories -- a sharp counterpoint in his inimitable voice.

Unlike most memoirs, Yesterday's Perfume is blessed with a wealth of extraordinary images. Cherie has created a visual record of their friendship, capturing intimate moments, making formal portraits, recording the comings and goings of celebrities and friends. And here, too, the dialogue with Bowles continues, for Paul has jotted down his reactions in the borders and on the prints.

Several other friends have contributed to these pages, Peter Beard, Ned Rorem, and Bruce Weber among them. But key is the collaboration of Cherie and Paul. Together they have created a touching portrait of friendship and a road map to the mind of an artist.

Review: The formidable charm of Paul Bowles radiates from every page of this unconventional memoir, which recalls Cherie Nutting's friendship with the expatriate American writer-composer during the last 13 years of his life. Nutting layers together text (her narrative, his journal extracts and unpublished writings) and photographs (of Bowles, his friends, and various significant objects) in a collage-like format. This impressionistic approach is highly appropriate to Bowles (1910-99), whose first published work appeared in a surrealist magazine, and who remained an avant-garde innovator in music and literature for half a century. Although 40 years his junior, Nutting has similar interests: she fell in love at age 10 with Morocco, his adopted homeland; and, when she read his best-known novel, The Sheltering Sky, in the 1970s, "the book meant everything" to her. Inspired by recurring dreams, she wrote to Bowles in 1985 and explained that "it was in my destiny that we should meet"; he responded with an invitation to visit him in Tangier. Her photos show a radiantly handsome old man, while her reminiscences of kif smoking, rambles through the Moroccan landscape, and pronouncements like "the illicit bouquet that smelled of yesterday's perfume" create a dreamy atmosphere. Readers who are disinclined to this sort of stargazing will find comic relief in a running subplot that involves the house that's being built for Nutting by Bowles's friend Mohammed Mrabet, who extracts substantial sums of money from both of them, gets angry whenever his plans are questioned, and takes a long time to complete the structure. Readers who are attuned to the special sensibility that's expressed in Bowles's life and work will find it evocatively captured here. --Wendy Smith

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