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Description - You are Not I by Millicent Dillon

The famously enigmatic writer-composer Paul Bowles is the subject of Millicent Dillon's unforgettable new book. Her portrait of the chameleonlike artist is much more than an account of Bowles's life, however. It is also a meditation on biography that questions the biographer's role, the subject's credibility, and the very nature of "truth" in the telling of a life. Millicent Dillon first met Paul Bowles in Tangier in 1977, when she was writing a biography of his wife, the author Jane Bowles, who died in 1973. Dillon returned to Morocco in 1992 to work with Bowles on a book about his own life. In Bowles's book-lined apartment often crowded with visitors, Dillon observes the magnetism the aging artist exerts on anyone who comes into his circle. Bowles talks of his difficult childhood and of his grief over Jane's long illness, of exile, dreams, and madness. He is charming and evasive with Dillon, generous and devious. As the book unfolds, Dillon's own reflections and concerns surface alongside details of Bowles's daily life, his physical condition, his interactions with others. Her portrait of the artist is seen simultaneously with her construction of that portrait, and in a kind of literary legerdemain we are able to observe Dillon on the biographical canvas along with Bowles and his deceased wife. Author of the international bestseller The Sheltering Sky and numerous other works, as well as an acclaimed composer, Paul Bowles has had an immensely rich creative life. Millicent Dillon seems to have been destined to write this unconventional biography of the artist, and the result is wonderful, disturbing, and strangely compelling, like Paul Bowles himself.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780520224933
ISBN-10: 0520224930
Format: Paperback
(226mm x 140mm x 25mm)
Pages: 354
Imprint: University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
Publish Date: 24-Feb-2000
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - You are Not I by Millicent Dillon

Book Reviews - You are Not I by Millicent Dillon

US Kirkus Review » This jumbled but ever readable account of the expatriate composer and author is not so much a biography as a meditation on the biographical process and its pitfalls. Anticipating the death of Paul Bowles, the last of the Tangiers giants, a full-scale literary industry is beginning to gear up. Bowles himself has never been a particularly prolific author, but each work of fiction, from The Sheltering Sky to the shortest of his short stories, arrived with a resounding fullness to it. A world so complete, so considered, that each work feels like a life's oeuvre. There's an elusive archetypal quality to his work that seems to mediate between the noumenal and phenomenal, as if these classic philosophic distinctions were almost resolvable. Like his work, Bowles seems to be just beyond full understanding, a passive acquiescent personality who can't say no, but is very good at avoiding anything uncomfortable. He is particularly elusive when Dillon (who edited The Portable Paul and Jane Bowles as well as a volume of Jane Bowles's letters) attempts to tease out the deeply autobiographical elements of his work: "Hadn't he always been in the process of escaping? Escaping into another room, escaping across borders into another country, escaping into regions within himself, escaping into others, escaping into his characters, even as they too are escaping." Dillon here has thrown over the traditional biographical method in favor of a free-form approach, part interview, part reminiscence, part autobiography. Based largely on hundreds of hours spent with Bowles, it's a fascinating mix that doesn't quite gel, although there are flashes of real insight. The autobiographical elements are overplayed, although such elements as the arrival of a second, rival biographer and Dillon's sense that she is trapped in a Bowles novel are so intriguing, one excuses their irrelevance. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Millicent Dillon

Millicent Dillon's published works include fiction and nonfiction as well as numerous short stories. She is the editor of The Portable Paul and Jane Bowles (1994), Out in the World: Selected Letters of Jane Bowles, 1935-1970 (1990), and A Little Original Sin. Millicent Dillon lives in San Francisco.

Books By Millicent Dillon

Jane Bowles: Collected Writings by Millicent Dillon
Hardback, January 2017
Little Original Sin by Millicent Dillon
Paperback, April 1998