The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Jane Bowles Two Serious Ladies (1943)

 

‘The shock of discovering that a blazingly original writer has antecedents: the shock of turning from Shakespeare to Marlowe, from Tom Wolfe to Céline. In the zoo of last century’s literature, Muriel Spark has to be classed as one of the Great Cats, a slinking killer, cold and carnivorous, a wise fear in her gait. She was weird in ways her contemporaries only pretended to be; I got the sense that she was genuinely weird, floating almost alone in a sea of feigned weirdness, and also genuinely afraid of existence, in a time when her rivals were only just taking correspondence courses in canned Existentialism. Her concision and style, her grasp of the comedic principle that the characters can’t know they’re funny, and her religious contempt for characters that ended up seeming more compassionate than the cheaper, more earthbound compassion — all this establishes her claim to uniqueness, despite the century of British comic tradition at her back.

‘So it was strange to open Jane Bowles’s only novel, Two Serious Ladies, and find the Spark atmosphere hanging there in 1943, more than a decade before Spark began publishing her fiction. Something bizarre and monastic and sexual lurks beneath the unassuming narration. Dread, too, but an amused one. A wry dread, which blooms at the fringes of human activity.

‘No less than musicians, authors have particular sounds, and often these sounds are less a product of their creative effort than of their inculcating milieu. Dostoevsky didn’t invent the way drunken Russians speak; neither Dickens didn’t invent the way pompous lawyers speak; and Charles Portis blowhards are available to speak to you on diverse matters at every rest stop of our republic. What milieu could have produced the sound of both Spark and Jane Bowles? Both had complex links to both Judaism and homosexuality — could that be the recipe?

‘I suspect no. Their books instead concern this subject matter: a woman branching off from regular society, powered by a kind of Ahab madness; or maybe the better image is of a Brothers Grimm child lost in the woods. In The Driver’s Seat, our heroine takes the eros-thanatos link to unprecedented lengths on her unnerving Eurotrip; in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, the crème de la crème curdles into a one-woman fascist movement.

‘In Two Serious Ladies, we have two parallel narratives, one of motion and the other of stasis. Mrs. Copperfield and her husband travel to sunny Panama, where the bright colors and sassy sex workers unlock her Anglo heart; what the pendulous fruit of Key West did for the frosty insurance executive Wallace Stevens, the street shouts and impoverished splendor of Central America do for Mrs. Copperfield: they fire her imagination. She’s a napper woken by the crawling sunshine.

‘Meanwhile, stateside, Christina Goering encounters the tubby and childlike Arnold, his more charismatic father, and ends up living with both plus her friend Miss Gamelon, in a house on an island, accessible only by ferry. Why? For no reason, and for every reason. In both narratives, the women form connections and then feel subject to the opposite impulse, to dissolve these connections, to get away, to go live in a strange hotel. Both women enact a fantasy, imbued with large and private significance, of going out to a bar, alone, and meeting new, mysterious people, not exactly for sex (neither of these Serious Ladies seems particularly horny in the physical sense) but in pursuit of some species of emotional commerce, spiritual currents.

‘One of the toughest tasks for a critic is to convey the experience of actually reading a novel. Summarize the themes all you want; talk about the author’s life, but some kernel remains out of reach, and that kernel is the whole point; it’s why the readers keep coming back. After four hundred years, no one has quite managed to say just what the nightmare essence of Hamlet is, its weird rage about sex and cowardice. If anyone had explained that kernel, probably no one would read the play.

‘In Two Serious Ladies, events drift into the fantastic, while maintaining their own hidden logic. Glass perfume bottles get thrown with blood-drawing force; people leave home and move in together with total casualness, almost involuntarily, like sleepwalkers. The novel begins with a Spark feeling and ends up feeling like Luis Buñuel or David Lynch.

‘”[R]eality was often more frightening to her than her wildest dreams,” writes Bowles about Miss Gamelon. Fear, and the overcoming of fear, seem central to the author’s imagination here. Claire Messud writes in her introduction, “Bowles was famously indecisive, in part because she fretted that each decision, however small, might have lasting moral implications. She was also, in youth, extremely fearful, constrained by an impressive catalogue of anxieties and phobias. But she pushed hard against her nature.” Reading this, and the novel that followed, it was hard not to think about Valeria Ugazio, and her description of a “semantics of freedom,” in which life is divided between those who travel and assert themselves and gain independence and those who cling to a circumscribed home life, so cautious they seem cadaverous. Underneath the dream atmosphere of Two Serious Ladies, we can sense a soul wavering between fear and boldness, but unable to choose either. One character writes a letter stating, “I can only say that there is, in every man’s life, a strong urge to leave his life behind him for a while and seek a new one. If he is living near to the sea, a strong urge to take the next boat and sail away no matter how happy his home or how beloved his wife or mother.”

Two Serious Ladies is a rare vision. If I had adapt this story to another medium, I think I’d choose ballet; that would provide the requisite gesture (sometimes jerking, sometimes flowing), the dread, the sense of the primitive, the frail and the fierce combining together in a spectacle that’s nearly human.’ — Nicholas Vajifdar, Bookslut

 

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Gallery


early 1940s


1943


w/ Paul Bowles, Truman Capote, a.o., 1944


w/ Oliver Smith, Paul Bowles, 1947 (Irving Penn)


w/ Truman Capote, 1949


1951 (Carl Van Vechten)


w/ Tennessee Williams, Lilla Van Saher, early 1950s


w/ Leonore Gershwin, 1964


w/ Cherifa, late 1967


1970


Malaga, 2010

 

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Further

Jane Bowles Official
THE MADNESS OF QUEEN JANE
Les femmes borderline et désaxées de Jane Bowles
A brief survey of the short story part 17: Jane Bowles
“LOCKED IN EACH OTHER’S ARMS”: JANE BOWLES’S FICTION OF PSYCHIC DEPENDENCY
Jane Bowles’ ‘Two Serious Ladies’ Gone Wild
Nothing is Lost or Found: Desperately Seeking Paul and Jane Bowles
2 August (1947): Jane Bowles to Paul Bowles
American Dreams, 1943: ‘Two Serious Ladies’ by Jane Bowles
THE GATHERING SPIRIT OF JANE BOWLES
Two Serious Ladies confounds with sinister humor and dark delight
Jane Bowles: Inventory of Her Collection at the Harry Ransom Research Center
Un(der)known Writers: Jane Bowles
Lost & Found: Alice Elliott Dark on Jane Bowles
It’s Time to Start Taking Jane Bowles Seriously
Buy ‘Two Serious Ladies’

 

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Extras


Documentary – JANE & PAUL BOWLES (English/Spanish)


Paul Bowles y Jane Bowles, su mundo entre Tánger y Málaga


Letter from jane bowles to sarah carpenter


5 Letters from Jane (Bowles); for Voices, Ropes, and Chains


Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane: “A Quarreling Pair”, based on the puppet play by Jane Bowles.


Jane Bowles, último equipaje

 

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Interview
with Bowles scholar Millicent Dillion

 

So let’s talk first about Jane’s life as a writer, because it was not easy. Jane published before Paul did, and it was his work with her on Two Serious Ladies that inspired him to try his hand at fiction. Yet she sank rather quickly into literary obscurity and put her energy into assuring Paul that she didn’t mind if he was the more successful or if people at her publisher [Knopf] pretended not to know whom she was. What do you think her real feelings were about being overshadowed in the world of literature by her (very talented) husband?

The relationship between Jane’s work and Paul’s work was as complex as the relationship between the two of them. In that relationship she looked to him for support (including economic support) as well as early on, as with Two Serious Ladies, with shaping the work in terms of form—so that he suggested taking out the third serious lady, and she readily agreed. In her early letters, when he does start publishing, stories at first, and then getting the novel contract, you can hear the anguish in her voice. She admits to jealousy and then tries to smooth it over, but it’s obviously there. In the same way she suffered from his relationship with [his long-term lover] Ahmed Yacoubi.

As for Paul, he continuously encouraged her to work, and even said once that he would not see her if she did not work. I would guess, though of course, it is only speculation, that it was not his publishing his own work that made her own work so hard for her, it was a whole host of problems that she had to deal with. The rivalry, the jealousy could have been overcome. But the forces within her that she was fighting were never appeased.

Incidentally, Jane’s play was produced several years after Paul had been publishing. He wrote the music for the play. She anguished over that play for years, tried one version, then the next, and could not ultimately make it cohere. There are wonderful things in it, but it too suffers from her anguish about her own decisions.

If Jane had been a man, do you think her fiction would be more widely-known today? Do you think she would have been classed with the more famous male experimental writers, whom she in many ways completely surpassed?

Jane, as you may know, has never been taken up by the feminists. In fact, I don’t think you can strictly speaking regard her as a feminist. If you remember, she thought in very conservative terms about marriage, her marriage to Paul. He was to provide for her, and she was to take care of the house, etcetera. She never seemed to have any objections to that. Here again I am speculating, but I don’t think feminist ideas as such play a large role in her work. She did not think in general terms, in any case.

You ask if a man who wrote as she did would be more famous? A man, of course, could not write as she did.

As for fame, Victoria, think of the many wonderful writers who have fallen into obscurity in this time of no-lasting impact.

How did she do it—how did Jane achieve such economy, insight, and sheer comedy, while simultaneously giving the impression she was an amateur simply playing around with words? Have you ever tried to imitate her work to see how it’s done?

Once Jane got into the writing of Two Serious Ladies, she never thought of herself as an amateur. In some strange way, she knew how good she was, compared herself favorably to Carson McCullers, for example. Yet even though she knew how good she was, the anguish was always there. I was not and am not into literary psychoanalysis, but she opens herself up in the work and in the letters so that you can see all these forces within her. And at the same time, her terrible anguish about any decision.

No, I have never tried to imitate Jane’s style. I am not into imitation. I’ve spent forty years trying to find my own style.

It seems to me the forces within her were based largely upon her relationship with her mother—with her role as Claire’s “million-dollar baby.” Jane’s work appears to be about exploring that relationship from myriad angles: from that of the daughter who retreats in submission and longing; the daughter who rebels and runs wild; the mother with an iron will; and the mother blind to her own extreme dependence. In much of her work these relationships appear as intimate relationships between peers—even sisters—yet the grappling with the power imbalance is always there.

Yes, it does seem clear that was a very powerful force for her in the way you describe it. Yet I also feel that the struggle in her, as in any human being, is more complex than any single issue. This is where literature begins to depart from psychoanalysis, which is after all a therapy intended to bring the patient into a greater adaptation to the world.

I cannot speak of this in very simple straightforward terms because of the complexity of human emotions. That is what I see so strongly in Jane. It is as though multiple forces assail her, and she is continuously buffeted by them from all sides. What makes her different from others, in a certain sense, is that she has no defense against the multiplicity. If she could have said, “My mother did this to me or that to me,” it would have been simpler for her. But instead, I suspect, she would think of herself as assailed one way and then by another.

Jane’s work is replete with insight into paradox. Whenever she finds a fundamental truth, she immediately progresses beyond it to its antithesis. I think the basis of this must have been in the overwhelming duality of her feelings about her mother—the pampering that gave Jane, ultimately, her faith in her abilities, along with the blatant use of Jane for Claire’s emotional well-being.

My immediate response, with respect to Claire, is to recall the strangeness of Claire taking Jane to Switzerland for treatment in the sanatorium [when 13-year-old Jane contracted tuberculosis of the knee shortly after her father died] and then going off and leaving her there while she went to Paris. In Paris, Claire was pursuing her own version of finding a new life, romantic and otherwise. I could bet she didn’t see anything wrong with this, though it is difficult for me to reconcile that choice with Claire’s constant expression of devotion for Jane. No doubt there was something in Claire that could deceive herself easily.

I do think about Jane that her relation to her family of women and its authoritarianism makes her a figure that is in some way incomprehensible to young women now. I remember giving a talk about the book to a group of women, many of whom were irate because she did not break away, they thought, from the constraints upon her, and, in fact, blamed her.

What did they think she was doing in Morocco in the 1940s, making excuses to Moroccan women [as she described in “Everything is Nice”] when they asked, “Why do you not sit in your mother’s house?” I remember Paul saying that they got married partly so Jane could travel, as she could not have traveled alone in that era. She went to enormous lengths to escape, to the extent that she eventually died of her extremist life in Tangier, suffering terrible pyschiatric handicaps due to that stroke and ensuing difficulties, many years before her time.

When I would talk to Paul about Jane in her later years when she was so ill, I would say, with a certain hubris, “But she was still Jane, wasn’t she?” Paul would deny it. Now, so many years later, after going through experiences with friends who suffered from conditions similar to Jane’s, if not exactly the same, and after being torn by grief, anger, etcetera, etcetera, I think I was both wrong and right.

I would like to think some more about Jane’s physical vulnerability, about her relationship to her own body, or at least try to speculate about it. Jane at times seemed almost oblivious to her body. When she called herself “Crippie Kike Dyke,” did she think it was funny? Or was she being more bitter than funny? Think about what it would be for a teenage girl to be in bed in traction for months upon months.

I think she was both fearless and very fearful at the same time, and this would result in her paying no attention to her body at times and at other times being obsessive about it, worrying about it and how it could be damaged.

Why was writing so terribly hard for her? She was pushed to do it and yet pushed not to do it. She is always, I think, subject to opposing forces and cannot choose what side she is on. Decisions of any kind are a torment to her. So in some way, I suspect, despite her anger at her mother, there also existed in her tenderness, if not love, rage, despair, maybe even sympathy.

I suppose what I’m saying is that the multiplicity is there for all of us, but she could not placate it, keep it quiet.

There is also this about Claire. She seems to have been of ordinary—even limited—sensibility, someone interested in clothes, propriety, middle-class values from her family, a family that she never escaped from, maybe never even knew the impulse to escape from them. One of the ways I see it is that Claire was not an equal antagonist, and as a result Jane had to build her up more and more in her mind to create a true antagonist. This she did with her imagination, and by so doing, was more of a prisoner of that imagined Claire than the real one. But how could Jane fight her own imagination? It is in this realm—the realm of her own imagination—that Jane had to fight out her most serious battles. And no one could help her with that.

And yet, despite all that was so dark in her life, it is important to turn again to her work. Reading it, one sees how remarkable and how innovative it is even after all this time, how funny and surprising it is and profound. Perhaps that’s the most surprising thing of all, how profound it is.

 

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Book

Jane Bowles Two Serious Ladies
Ecco

Two Serious Ladies is the only novel by avant-garde literary star and wife of legendary writer Paul Bowles—a modernist cult-classic, mysterious, profound, anarchic, and funny, that follows two upper-class women as they descend into debauchery—updated with an introduction by Claire Messud, bestselling author of The Emperor’s Children and The Woman Upstairs.

‘Two serious ladies who want to live outside of themselves, Christina Goering and Frieda Copperfield embark on separate quests of salvation. Mrs. Copperfield visits Panama with her husband, where she finds solace among the women who live and work in its brothels. Miss Goering becomes involved with various men. At the end the two women meet again, each transformed by her experience.’ — Ecco

 

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Excerpt




















 

*

p.s. Hey. ** Kier, Kier! Holy moly!!!!!! Of course, of course, of course, I would be honored to help you with that in any way I can. And having you here again would be insanely great. So, yes, yes! I’m at your disposal. Also, I’m finally going to be writing to you very soon about that thing I told you I wanted to propose to you a while back. It’s to do with Zac’s and my film. Anyway, you’ll be hearing from me soon about that. Are you enjoying school? Is it being everything you’d hoped and wanted to be? Man, I’m so happy to see you, my pal. I’ve missed you a huge bunch! Big love, me. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. The main character in Zac’s and my new film is obsessed with a guy (fictional) who’d disappeared without a trace in the ’90s. The guy had never even had a single photograph taken of him in his life through a series of weird coincidences and rare mishaps, so he literally vanished. The women’s march in LA looked so amazing and so moving and inspiring even to watch on the news over here. Exactly, Paris has demonstrations, sometimes very large ones, usually more than once a week, but … LA! Incredible! All we can do is hope and fight relentlessly using our given strengths. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Yes, I think the only reason Richey Edwards wasn’t in that post was because I had made a whole post about his disappearance not long before. The auditions yesterday went very well. There were three guys that we’re very interested in and whom we’ll bring bak for the second round of auditions soon. That’s a pretty good success. And we’ll see what we find in the auditions today. The big and ongoing problem is finding a guy to play the main character who is handicapped. We would really like to find an actual handicapped guy to play the role, but we’ve had no luck at all so far, and that’s getting tricky. We might have to end up either altering the character or having an abled guy perform the handicap, but we’d really rather not do that. But for the other roles, it’s looking very good. Enjoy that inspiration for as long as it last, for sure. What a great and powerful state! I’m so happy you’re swept up in it! Are you still an inspiration magnet today? Have a great one no matter what happens. ** Steevee, Hi. Yeah, I’m feeling this constant internal war about whether to keep up with every new horrifying Trump move or look as far in the other direction as I can. So far, I seem to end up wanting to watch him like a hawk. I’m quite a fan of Shymalan’s ‘Unbreakable’, and I’m basically pro his early films, even ‘The Village’ to some degree. After that, not so much at all. But I am curious about ‘Split’. I do think he has proven himself capable of doing quite interesting work in the mainstream/genre realm. How was ‘Split’? ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Thanks. I’ll check out that review, thank you muchly. ** New Juche, Hi, Joe. Harry Mathews was a great American experimental writer, mostly a novelist and poet. He was the only official American member/practitioner of Oulipo. His novels are extremely good to a one. He had this one fluke best seller in the US with his 1987 novel ‘Cigarettes’, which is up there among the most unlikely popular success novels ever. My personal favorite novels of his are probably ‘The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium’ and ‘Tlooth’. When my first novel ‘Closer’ was published, he gave it glowing blurb, which was such a great honor and encouragement to me. Anyway, his work is highly recommended. No, the French bank account problem is not solved yet. It’s getting pretty stressful, but I’ll figure it out because I have no choice. Yeah, I apologize for my email neglect. It’s been especially very busy these recent days. I’ll be in a bit of a clear this weekend, and I promise I’ll get to it then. ** Jamie, Hi and thank you, sir! When anyone says ‘Super Cooper’, the ABBA song ‘Super Trouper’ starts playing my my head, which is a good thing, mind you. I will leave you to dream and believe blissfully about the fate of Harry Nilsson’s corpse. Like I told Dora, the first day of auditions went very well. Quite exhausting, but with success via having found three great candidates to show for it. If you’re interested, it works like this: Candidate enters a room where Zac and I are poised with script, camera, etc. We explain the film to them and give them basic information about when and where the film will be shot and what time would also be required for rehearsals. Then they sign an agreement that we can film them. Then we have a long conversation with them, basically a q&a about their lives, interests, etc. because we want to watch how they are/look/react/think normally given that we’re looking for people who really interest us and whom we can just focus and shape a little without asking them to ‘act’ in the usual way. Then we have them read some of the dialog from the film, either a random part or, if we ‘re thinking of them for a particular role, from one of their potential character’s scenes. Then we film them standing, walking around, looking in different directions, etc. Then we ask them if they have any questions. Then we say goodbye and tell them that we’ll be in touch with them soon. So that’s basically what we did over and over all day yesterday. Oh, right, you’re in London for the trade show, duh. Any cool free merch or giveaways? Continue to have fun to the max whenever possible while you’re there. Max love, Dennis. ** Misanthrope, Hi. Is that who I am? Wow, that’s cool. I’m going to start working that angle. Sia seems fine, it’s just, you know, not my thing. You know where my things lie. Yay about the post! Just send it to me in the usual form by email — denniscooper72@outlookcom. The formatting here at WordPress is a little different, but not in a way that effects how the posts should be given to me. Excited, George! ** H, Hi. I agree with what you wrote, no surprise. Well, the ‘Die In’ was certainly dramatic, but it was also knuckle-headed and not thought-out, and it had that weird, annoying thing that was happening a lot back then of something deeply conservative and censorious that absurdly self-characterized itself as radical. Weird shit. Thank you about the catalog. I have a copy of the catalog here, so it should be okay, I think. ** Lord_s, Hey, man. Cool. Thank you for triggering it. Bradford’s very cool, and he’s been really kind about my stuff. He used to be regular commenter on my blog in the early days before Deerhunter took off. Have a fine one! ** Okay. The blog focuses on Jane Bowles’ great novel ‘Two Serious Ladies’ today. Have at it, won’t you? See you tomorrow.

23 Comments

  1. New Juche

    Hey Dennis

    I’ll look up Harry Matthews. James Nulick told me about a writer called Jerzy Kosinski, specifically his book Steps. Do you know this book?

    I’m reading Houellbecq’s book on HP Lovecraft, at the rate of about 4 pages a day. I was put off by Stephen King’s introduction, but I’m getting into it now. What do you make of Houellbecq? This is the fourth book of his I’m reading, and the jury is still out, though I haven’t lost interest. Submission is my favourite so far, it was not remotely the book I expected from the reviews I read.

    The email, yeah, thanks man. I fully appreciate how busy you are with the film auditions, and life. I hope you and Zac find the perfect actor! The film sounds interesting.

    Stay well

    Joe

    • _Black_Acrylic

      Hi Joe, I’m a fan of Houellbecq’s Lovecraft book and I reckon it’s the best thing he’s written.

      • James Nulick

        Step back, big Black! I loved Submission and the Elementary Particles… the Houellebecq book on Lovecraft has sat on my shelf gathering dust for years, I should crack it open now that Joe is reading it.

        Much love to you, Ben! 🙂

        • _Black_Acrylic

          Haha right back atcha ? x

          • New Juche

            JN and BA – Nice! I’ll report back once I’ve finished Against the World, Against Life.

            And I totally forgot to mention Jane Bowles. I love Janey Bowles. I’ve read everything by her, and her husband – I’d be hard pressed to choose the better half between them. As much as I like Two Serious Ladies, it was a Penguin edition of her short stories that I read first, and I think her best writing is in these. Is it called Plain Pleasures? It has a painting of bread on the cover. And those pics of her in the 40s Dennis – damn – my kind of woman.

  2. _Black_Acrylic

    I remember John Waters being a major fan of Two Serious Ladies, and I’ve had this sat on my bookshelf for the longest time without ever picking it up. I’ll take today’s Spotlighting as the spur to do just that.

  3. kier

    hey denboy, holy moly to you too!! i’ve missed you a bunch

  4. kier

    oops, i pressed something wrong there. thank you for being my ally in the writing plan, that’ll be so nice. i mean you can give me anything you want, like a song or concept, but a word is more than great. so, can i have one? i’ll schedule it for monday. shit, i can’t wait to hear what the mysterious thing to do with your film(!!!) is!!!! how soon is soon?? that’s so exciting, damn. really really nice to hear about your auditions n film process work, i love that. how were auditions today? i’m starting to get pretty happy here at school, it’s taken 6 months, but i always need plenty of time to get comfortable. moving to a new city and only having one friend here from before (ottar) also is a big adjustment though. i really really like the school, there are so many awesome teachers and just being fulltime arty is everything i wanted so i’m happy. oh this book looks really interesting, it is on my list now. one nice thing about being in oslo is i can actually find most books i want at the library/school library! real big blessing for me. i just started reading ‘an intellectual history of cannibalism’ by avramescu, which i finally got my hands on after having it on my list (it’s a literal list) for years since you were talking about it when you were writing the marbled swarm, i think. what are you reading these days? like five different things at a time? biggest love, k

  5. steevee

    I wound up not seeing SPLIT, because by the time my friend and I got to the theater, only 4 seats were left and they were all in the front row. He didn’t want to see it under those circumstances, so we browsed around the Strand instead. We have plans to see SPLIT the weekend after next, when the crowds should be thinner.

    I know what you mean about wanting to watch Trump’s every move. For all my disgust, I wound up watching the BBC news and then the Rachel Maddow show yesterday.

  6. David Ehrenstein

    Ever-so-happy to see a “Two Serious Ladies” Day. That Frank O’Hara and the New York Poets were so enthusiastic about it is indicative of the fact that at heart it’s a work of poetry.

    Millicent Dillon’s biography “A Little Original Sin” will supply you with all the major facts about Jane. Jane and Patricia Highsmith were the lesbian queens of Greenwich Village back in the day. As for her relationship with Paul, he was a lesbian-hag (among many other things) and loved her dearly in his (naturally non-sexual) way. So when the cops threatened to arrest him for entertaining handsome youths at a notorious hot-bed hotel she was more than willing to marry him and Get Out of Dodge. The marriage pleased their respective parents and they got on quite well together — staying out of their respective sexual ways. “Pot” and Kit” in “The Sheltering Sky” aren’t Paul and Jane, though some aspects of them can be found in it. Very clever of Bertolucci to have Debra Winger’s “Kit” bring a copy of “Nightwood” with her on their journey to Morocco and points elsewhere.

    I’ve always longed for someone (Tom Kalin? Todd Haynes? Ulrike Ottinger?) to do a movie version. Barbara Steele and Tuesday Weld would be perfect as some of the other women in the story. Cate Blanchett and Winger could do the leads.

  7. David Ehrenstein

    Regarding Jerzy Kosinski

    • New Juche

      About to purchase Steps right now. And, about to read your article on The Driver’s Seat. David E

      • James Nulick

        Joe, you’ll have to tell me what you think of Steps… I found it to be a sexually intriguing phantasmagoria of epic proportions, and all under 200 pages.

  8. Dóra Grőber

    Hi!

    Oh, yes! The post you also restored some time ago, though maybe still on your ‘murdered’ blog! I really liked it. And thank you for today’s too!
    I’m so-so glad to hear the auditions are going so well! I really hope you’ll also find or you’ve already found the perfect guy for the main role today because it must be really frustrating to think about alternative options when you have a detailed idea of what you want. How were today’s performers?
    I got sick so I spent the day in bed and I thought I won’t be able to write anything even remotely okay like this but I was positively surprised! So I guess some of yesterday’s inspiration is still with me!
    How was the day on your end? I hope it was successful!!

  9. James Nulick

    Dennis,

    I think you owe me money… I logged on to Amazon after reading this post and purchased ‘Two Serious Ladies’ ! … jeez Dennis, every time I look at your blog I usually end up buying books you recommend… you do realize you are seriously cutting into my alcohol slush fund?

    I found yesterday’s post intensely fascinating, but then I have always been fascinated by disappearance and abduction stories. I was aware of the Ambrose Bierce legend, but I had no idea about Gerry Rafferty. I was disappointed when I looked him up on Wiki and saw that he had finally died a normal death, in 2010. Another death I have puzzled over for years, not that he disappeared or anything, but the death of Richard Brautigan, it seems so odd, given his apparent love for people, and of course peoples’ love for him, his book fans, that he would just off himself, all alone in a lonely house in Bolinas, California. It doesn’t seem very Brautigan, but then the human mind is ultimately unknowable, and contains multitudes.

    From wiki –

    In 1984, at age 49, Richard Brautigan had moved to Bolinas, California, where he was living alone in a large, old house that he had bought with his earnings years earlier. He died of a self-inflicted .44 Magnum gunshot wound to the head. His decomposed body was found by Robert Yench, a friend and private investigator, on October 25, 1984. The body was found on the living room floor, in front of a large window that, though shrouded by trees, looked out over the Pacific Ocean.

    Another disappearance story that has fascinated me since childhood is ‘The Disappearance of David Lang,’ which is likely just a Southern Gothic myth. But I read about it when I was ten or eleven, in a book called Mysteries of the Unknown, or something like that, and the idea that someone could disappear in broad daylight, in front of witnesses, was incredible. And in the spot where Mr. Lang disappeared, no grass would grow…

    Is the handicapped character in your new film, is he the person obsessed with the boy who wants to blow himself up? And is the explosion boy also the boy who has never been photographed? I’m just trying to lay it all out in my mind. It sounds like such an incredible project… Thank you for the audition details, Dennis. I would love to have sat in on such a process, as a quiet observer, of course.

    I’m having a medical procedure performed today, yet another ultrasound (the third one in three months), on my leg, which I injured back in September. This latest ultrasound will determine if the blood clot caused by the injury has disappeared. I’ve been on Xarelto since October and I don’t like it, it causes nosebleeds. But the hospital room the ultrasound takes place in is so soothing, with the darkness of the room and all the medical equipment whirring around you, you start thinking, I could die here, and I guess it would be alright…

    Happy friday and much love to you.

    Xoxo

  10. Tosh Berman

    The Bowles clan is endlessly fascinating. I have Jane’s books but never read them. Why???? There are books that I don’t read because I’m waiting for the final moment for some odd reason. And Jane Bowles is in that stupid category of mine. Your blog today will push me to locate the book in my unread stack of books pile.

    Paul Bowles is one of my favorite writers. By the way, and maybe David E. will know this album, but Bowles collaborated with James Schuyler on a music piece called “A Picnic Cantata.” It’s a piece with vocals (duh) and the duo pianos of Gold and Fizdale. Here’s the link to the album:

    https://www.discogs.com/Paul-Bowles-Francis-Poulenc-Gold-and-Fizdale-A-Picnic-Cantata-Sonata-For-Two-Pianos/release/3492566

    It’s a fantastic album, and oddly enough I see it in the used record bins here and there. I have no additional information, but the Schuyler text is superb. As far as I know, the album came out in 1954 (the date of my birth) and never was re-issued or put on CD. A must-have!

  11. James Nulick

    Dennis,

    Regarding yesterday’s post, have you seen the doc ‘Who Took Johnny’ ? It’s about Johnny Gosch, one of the world’s first milk carton children. He disappeared in 1982, and there were rumors that he was abducted by an international pedophile ring based in Omaha (!!), that a mysterious man kidnapped him off the sidewalk in broad daylight while he was delivering papers, that he was forced into child porn, and that he wasn’t missing at all, and was only a runaway. His body has never been found. His mother, who is a character in her own right, claims to have been visited by Johnny when he was in his late twenties, but he only visited her for half an hour because he was afraid someone was following him. It’s a weirdly fascinating documentary that you might check out if you have the time.

    Xoxo

  12. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Oh, no, I know what you mean about Sia.

    The post, it shall be done.

    If DavidE likes Jane, then Jane must be something else. In a good way.

    And dude, you’ve been working that angle for years and don’t even know it. 😉

  13. Alistair

    Dear Dennis, hey! How are things? I’ve been back in LA from Australia for almost 2 weeks now, mainly catching up on work, getting back into LA rhythms, walking the dog while Tim is in North Carolina. It’s been chilly here for LA. Australia was great, Tim and me had a lovely time, its good how travel rewires the brain right? So glad to see this Jane Bowles day, one of my favorite writers. Love to you, Alistair xo

  14. Marisol

    I stumbled across this old entry and just wanted to add I read Millicent Dillons biog on Jane Bowles when it was published as my parents had lived in Tangier in the 50s. Later I met some friends of theirs who had known of the Bowleses as they had also lived in the same apartment building in the Place de Navarre at the same time. They remembered Jane who was often very drunk and could get loud and emotional at times in public. They didn’t elaborate but they said it in a disapproving way. I think once you put Jane Bowles into the context of alcoholism a lot of the conflicts and inactivity (even the alcohol-induced stroke) that Dillon writes about and the rapid decline into alcoholic dementia fall into place. I think her husband Paul in a way was negligent and uncaring, as his particular drug of choice was kif and chasing young arab boys.

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