Paul Bowles, novelist, composer, poet and quintessential icon of individualism best known for “The Sheltering Sky,” died Nov. 18 of a heart attack in Tangier, Morocco, where he had lived since 1947. He was 88.
Among Bowles’ other works are “Let It Come Down,” “The Spider’s House” and “Up Above the World.”
During the influential literary scene in the 1940s and ’50s, the expatriate artist served as a mentor to several writers, including Beat Generation scribes William Burroughs and Allen Ginsburg. The famously elusive Bowles counted among his famous friends Gertrude Stein, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and Jack Kerouac.
Born in Queens, New York, Bowles began writing poetry as a child, studied as a young man with composer Aaron Copland and worked closely with composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein. He composed for Broadway musicals during the 1930s and 1940s, and his music was featured in the plays of Williams, Orson Wells and William Saroyan.
Ironically, while his novels were known for their dark and iconoclastic themes, his music has been described as sweet, light and enchanting.
He was married to novelist and playwright Jane Sydney Auer, who died in 1973. Theirs was an unorthodox marriage, to say the least, as each partner was homosexual and maintained relationships outside the marriage.