Jane Bowles – Collected Writings
Jane Bowles published a comparatively small body of work during her life, yet it had a major impact on American literature.
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“. . . idiosyncratic style may not be to everyone’s taste . . .”
The Library of America volume comprises the novel Two Serious Ladies, the play In the Summer House, and a collection of short stories and letters.
In Two Serious Ladies, respectable Mrs. Copperfield finds love, liberty and alcohol in the arms of Pacifica, a teenage prostitute working out of a seedy hotel in the Panamanian town of Colon. Her equally bourgeois counterpart, the uptight sociopath Miss Goering, succeeds in upsetting almost everyone she meets until she enters Mrs. Copperfield’s debauched world.
In the Summer House deals with the complexities of family relationships. The widowed Ms. Cuevas is an overbearing and suffocating mother who oppresses her teenage daughter while plotting another marriage to a rich Mexican for the sake of his wealth. Another widow, the gentle Ms. Constable, is oppressed by her daughter and resorts to drink to avoid depression.
The letters cover Jane Bowles life and correspondence, from North and Central America and later Morocco and Algeria where she lived the life of an ex-pat. They reflect the complexity of her life with husband Peter Bowles and her lifelong struggle with her handicap.
Jane Bowles – Collected Writings have an autobiographical flavor reflecting the writer’s complex nature and relationships as well as her own struggle to find her sexual identity and contentment. Her idiosyncratic style may not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying the raw sincerity in her work.
For more information, see: https://loa.org/books/531-collected-writings
Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews