Let It Come Down by Paul Bowles
New York : Random House, 1952. First Edition. Hardcover. 311 pages ; 21 cm. $3.50 dust jacket unclipped with a few minor tears around the DJ edges. Pages toned and unmarked. Binding is firm.
To Tangier, outpost of unrestrained freedom, morass of ruthless greed and opportunism, comes a young American, Nelson Dyar. Fed up with his job in a New York bank, he has accepted a position in this swarming Moroccan city where nationals of many countries mingle in a frenzy of smuggling, espionage, vice of every description. Quickly caught up in the stream of evil, Dyar discovers that the new life he seeks can be attained only by renouncing whatever loyalty he has for ethical principles. He finds, too, that casting all morality to the four winds is easy and spiritually beneficial in that it awakens him to new points of view. With the help of men and women whose varying states of depravity apparently have been achieved only after years of effort, he learns that each successive violation of a social taboo brings him nearer to self-knowledge. At the same time, because of the sanctions he fears will be taken against him, his involvement in society becomes more complete, his escape more improbable. With the skill so evident in his previous novel, The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles thrusts the reader into a setting that draws instant response from every sense. Few writers today can so readily and with such economy of expression evoke "place!' But places, no matter how bizarre, are backgrounds for people, and here, in the revelation of the humans who share the burden of the story, Let It Come Down is astonishingly rich. Whether it is Daisy, Marquesa de Valverde, who sees in Dyar a prey for her hashish-inspired impulses; or Hadija, at fifteen a thoroughly practical wench who sells to the highest bidder (or to all, if she can manage it); or Thami, pained by intimations of immorality but not by the money thus begotten; or Jack Wilcox, who dwells in frightened panic but who would never dream of forsaking his little racket —whether it is any of these, or any of the others who bump momentarily against the raft of Dyar's life as it moves down-stream, each assumes a reality extraordinarily sharp and clear. For all who remember the excitement that attended their reading of The Sheltering Sky, this new novel—suspense-ful to the last page—offers fresh proof of Paul Bowles' original and unusual talent.
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