Paul Bowles, the composer, writer, and translator, lived in Tangier, Morocco, from 1947 until his death in 1999. His first novel, The Sheltering Sky, came out early in this period, in 1949, but he remained an active and well-regarded writer for decades thereafter. He became part of the Library of America series in 2002. His fiction concentrates on the depiction of Americans abroad encountering exotic and hostile settings where they experience disease and psychological challenges. The larger theme in his work is the need to find meaning in a chaotic and ugly world.

Bowles was part of the expatriate cultural milieu surrounding Gertrude Stein in Paris in the 1930s, and in turn artist Ira Yeager, a generation younger, became part of the expatriate cultural milieu surrounding Bowles and his wife Jane in Tangier in the 1960s. Their association began when Yeager moved into the same apartment building as the Bowles.  Others in this group were William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsburg, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, and Truman Capote. This book comprises twenty previously unpublished letters from Bowles to Yeager, eight original relief prints hand colored by Yeager, and one original oil and acrylic painting by Yeager set into the cover. The book is named for the address from which Bowles wrote.

Ira Yeager is a popular California artist who studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. In California he studied with Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff and became part of the Bay Area Figurative Art movement, which also included David Park, Joan Brown, and Manuel Neri. This movement, which began in the 1950s, was a reaction to the nonrepresentational stance of  Abstract Expressionism. Diebenkorn eventually went back to abstraction, but most of the others, including Yeager, stayed with representational art. The illustrations in this book demonstrate that commitment.

Yeager’s work here is drawn from his own sketchbooks made while living in Tangier and doubtless capture the look and feel of the life Bowles describes in his letters. The edition is one of thirty unique copies plus four printer’s proofs each signed by the artist, the printer Peter Koch, and the editor Susan Filter.

 

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