Paul Bowles: The Complete Outsider”

An Esoteric Life

Amos Lassen

“Paul Bowles: The Complete Outsider” is one of my favorite documentary films and one that I thought I had lost forever. I once owned a copy on VHS but that, like the rest of everything I ever owned is somewhere with Hurricane Katrina. I was really excited when I received a letter from Kelly at First Run Features that it was being released on DVD and when it came today I sat down and watched it feeling I had fund a lost friend.

The documentary was filmed in Morocco and contains interviews with Allan Ginsberg and other literary giants of the 20th century. Bowles is best known as the author of “The Sheltering Sky” which has become a beloved novel which is both provocative and extremely influential.

Bowles, an American author, left this country to settle in North Africa and lived an enigmatic life. He was a mentor, so to speak to the Beat Generation and he influenced many, among them Ginsberg, Betrolucci, William Borroughs, David Cronenberg. Bowles was a novelist and a composer. Sexually he was ambiguous while being married to Jane Bowles.
The film actually has Bowles speaking himself and he talks about his writing and his music, his drug usage and his friends which included who was who in the literary and music worlds. He was a man who lived by the rules he made and answered to no one.

Bowles brought something new to writing. He wrote of places faraway and matters of the heart long before others did. He was legendary and real at the same time and it is only now that we are discovering his true worth.

“Paul Bowles: The Complete Outside” is produced and written By Catherine Hiller Warnow and Regina Weinreich and is a wonderful introduction to the man. It is a biography of a man we are not likely to see the likes of again. If you are not familiar with Paul Bowles, here is a great place to start knowing about him.

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