The Lemon

Mohammed Mrabet

An argument forces a handsome 12-year-old boy out of his family home and onto the streets of Tangier. He forms friends and enmities among the drunkards, kif smokers, prostitutes and lechers in this decadent international-port setting. He hones his survival skills and earns the name “The Lemon” as he proves no man to be his better. Transcribed from tapes and translated from the Moghrebi by writer Paul Bowles. JAT

Publisher: City Lights
Paperback: 181 pages

Love With a Few Hairs

Mohammed Mrabet

A Moroccan youth risks the displeasure of his British patron and gains the love of a neighborhood beauty through magic. But magic, like love, does not always last forever. Terse phrasing efficiently evokes 1960s Morocco as it feels the encroaching influences of the West. Mrabet was a protégé of Paul Bowles known for his swagger and natural storytelling skills. Transcribed from tapes and translated from the Moghrebi by Bowles. JAT

Publisher: City Lights
Paperback: 198 pages


Mohammed Mrabet

The term m’hashish means to act in an irrational or unexpected manner, as if under the influence of hashish. Ten short tales depict frequently extreme behavior and have the flavor of classic folk legends with vaguely menacing twists. Excellent as a short divertissement or as highbrow bathroom reading. Transcribed from tapes and translated from the Moghrebi by Paul Bowles. JAT

Publisher: City Lights
Paperback: 79 pages

Paul Bowles by His Friends

Edited by Gary Pulsifier

What do Francis Bacon, William Burroughs, John Cage, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Patricia Highsmith, Peter Owen, James Purdy, Ned Rorem, Maria St. Just, Sir Stephen Spender and Gore Vidal have in common? Paul Bowles, apparently. Whether in Berlin in the ‘30s, New York in the ‘40s or the years since in Tangiers, Bowles has known a veritable who’s who of writers, painters, journalists and publishers. Offering a collection of anecdotes and reminiscences, this work presents a composite portrait of this complex yet reticent figure. Whether through Cage’s word puzzle, or Bacon’s and Burroughs’ conversational remarks about Jane Bowles’ electro-shock treatments, a fuller portrait of Paul Bowles emerges while the contributors offer glimpses of themselves. In describing Bowles, Patricia Highsmith relates: “One has the feeling that Paul Bowles sees life as it is: meaningless in the long run, sees humans as indifferent to suffering and death as is mother nature herself. Paul looks at it steadily and tells it simply.” An intriguing addition to the writings of and about Bowles, this book provides an interestingly oblique overview of this legendary figure. JAT

Publisher: Peter Owen
Paperback: 160 pages

Departures: Selected Writings

Isabelle Eberhardt

Eberhardt’s short life was perhaps her greatest work of art. Despite her eventful existence, she was able to artfully chronicle her milieu in a body of remarkably textured prose. Departures compiles in a single volume a significant cross section of her short fiction and her travel journals, as well as supplementary essays which place her in a greater historical and cultural context. JAT

Publisher: City Lights
Paperback: 245 pages

In the Shadow of Islam

Isabelle Eberhardt

“To live alone is to live free. I no longer want to care about anything. Over the course of months I will place my soul apart. I have known so many days when I lived like a stray dog. Those days are far off, behind vast solitudes, behind crushing mountains, beyond the arid high plateau and the cultivated Tell, anguished nights in town where worries tumbled behind my eyes, where my heart ached with pity and impotence. Now I have won back my pride, and friendly faces are kinder to me. I will suffer no more from anyone.” In the Shadow of Islam recounts Eberhardt's journey to and stay at the remote desert zawiya, or religious establishment, of Kenadsa. Written shortly before her death, it is in some senses a travel journal; but it is most distinctive for what is omitted. Writing of her journey, Eberhardt never reveals her destination until her actual arrival. While in Kenadsa for Islamic training, she is required by tradition to remain silent about her instruction. Instead, she writes of the surrounding landscape and the activities around Kenadsa not forbidden to tell. These observations display a heightened sensitivity to their details and their significance in a compelling narrative. JAT

Publisher: Peter Owen
Hardback: 120 pages

Isabelle: The Life of Isabelle Eberhardt

Annette Kobak

Isabelle Eberhardt sought to experience the whole range of life among the Arabs of North Africa. Born in Switzerland from the union between a Russian woman with aristocratic ties and her children’s anarchist tutor, Eberhardt was raised wearing boy’s clothing and schooled in languages. Traveling to North Africa, she dressed as a man, converted to Islam, became addicted to kif (hashish) and took numerous male lovers before marrying an Arab sergeant. Joining a mysterious Sufi sect, she traveled across the desert and documented her picaresque life in numerous letters and journals before her premature death at age 27 in a freak desert flash flood. Isabelle sorts through the legend to capture all of the intricate strands of her short and eventful life. Relying on journals, unpublished letters and records in archives in Switzerland, France and Algeria, Kobak debunks fanciful myths (for example, that Rimbaud was her father) and demonstrates control of such sensational material. While perhaps lacking the poetry of Eberhardt’s own writings, this biography offers an excellent and comprehensive portrait of this legendary figure. JAT

Publisher: Penguin
Paperback: 268 pages

Prisoner of Dunes

Isabelle Eberhardt

“There are so many miserable people, hopelessly besmirched by their daily grind, who spend life’s brief hours in useless, absurd recriminations against everyone and everything. They are blind to the ineffable beauty of things, to the sad splendor of suffering humanity. Happy is he for whom nothing proceeds bestially and cruelly by chance, to whom all earth’s treasures are familiar, for whom all does not end foolishly in the darkness of the grave!” The vignettes and stories which make up Prisoner of Dunes span the years of Eberhardt’s life in North Africa and her period of exile in Marseilles. Most of these selections were either written in El Oued, the “town of a thousand domes,” or Marseilles, where she recalled El Oued. El Oued was the center of Eberhardt’s Saharan adventure and was the one place she dreamed of one day settling. Expressing the tensions that drove her and the strands of magical beauty she sought, Prisoner of Dunes evocatively captures this life. JAT

Publisher: Peter Owen
Paperback: 127 pages

The Sexual Brain

Simon LeVay

Nature versus nurture has long been the key question when probing the roots of sexual orientation. Written with the educated lay-person in mind, The Sexual Brain puts forward the case that the diversity of human sexual behavior and feelings is best viewed in terms of the development, structure and function of the brain circuits that produce them. In particular, LeVay posits that the hypothalamus size in homosexual men’s brains may be on average smaller than the hypothalamus of heterosexual men. While critics have questioned the diversity and size of the population group in this text’s underlying study, LeVay’s work has identified a possible physiological link in the determination of sexual orientation and will no doubt act as impetus for succeeding generations of researchers. JAT

Publisher: MIT
Paperback: 192 pages

Epitaphs To Remember: Remarkable Inscriptions from New England Gravestones

Janet Greene

This volume collects 215 gravestone epitaphs from the six New England states, frequently conveying elegiac verse of a sardonic bent. Examples include: The Reverend Nathan Noyes, 1808, Windham, Vermont:
“Look here and view affliction’s favorite son
For Misfortune through all my life has run
Hard perfection’s iron yoke I bore
Till I have seen of gloomy years, three score.
Now shout in vain, ye persecuting throng
I’m far beyond the poison of your song
Live and live happy while my grave you view
This tongue, now cold, has often prayed for you.”
While not necessarily a page turner, Epitaphs To Remember’s greatest success lies in the anthropological sense, offering a glimpse into what 300 years of New Englanders wanted to perpetuate as their final commentary on this mortal coil. JAT

Publisher: Hood
Paperback: 103 pages