Friday Finds: ‘So Why Did I Defend Paul Bowles?’

In the New York Review of Books, Hisham Aidi writes about Paul Bowles, Tangier, repression, Orientalist distortion, and the persistence of myth:

The essay, “So Why Did I Defend Paul Bowles?” opens:

In the mid-1990s, I used to lead literary walking tours of “Paul Bowles’s Tangier” for friends or literary pilgrims visiting from the US. We would meet at Madame Porte, the famed tearoom downtown, where Jane Bowles and Tennessee Williams spent many a rainy afternoon writing in 1948. The place, crawling with Italian and German spies during World War II, is mentioned in Let It Come Down, Paul’s exquisite novel about 1950s Tangier. From there, we’d walk across to Paradise, the equally fabled bar where Jane once removed the wig she wore in later life and began stripping. Then we’d walk to the Hotel Muniria, where Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg resided, and where, upstairs in Room 9, William Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch. From there, we’d cross the boulevard to Café de Paris, a haunt of Jean Genet.

Also read Aidi’s Rebel Music and his “Juan Goytisolo: Tangier, Havana and the Treasonous Intellectual,” which we talked about in Bulaq Episode 9.