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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 February 2009
A great book. A tense, supremely atmospheric novel of a stranger in a strange land coping badly with strange customs, and strange people who seek to use him or see that he comes to some harm. Bowles' style is great: tense, hard as rock, you could bash a nail in and a hang on a picture on it. It's dark, sometimes quite scary, always interesting, and at times beautifully sinister. A colourful cast of interesting characters, too. I really enjoyed it.
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on 17 February 2004
I rarely give five stars to books but this is an incomparable piece of art. The back cover (of my copy anyway) describe this as a thriller but you know that Bowles wouldn't write just a simple thriller and it isn't in any way simple. This is a story of Dyer who is lost in NY and comes to Tangier only to lose everything including his identity and ultimately his mind. But through this loss, he discovers something too. Something which can only be found when in solitude in deepest Morocco. Bowles again shows off his local knowledge of Morroco and treats us to some understanding of the rich and varied Arabic culture.
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on 9 March 2004
I agree with alaranja77@hotmail.com's review (although not so generous with the stars):
Dyar is bored with his trapped & conventional life in post-war USA &, on a whim takes off to Tangier, where in a comical mix of pouring rain, drink, drugs & sex (all of which he resolutely pretends to leave him unaffected: after all - he's only following conventional behaviour) he finds himself with a lot of cash. (The author’s preface gives this away.) Finally he takes a chance to be unconventional, free-at-last and for all the wrong reasons decides to flee. This gives Bowles a brief opportunity to contrast the honest, but superstitious, village life of the Berbers with the corrupted city dwellers.
This book is an entertaining collection of irritating character-types, everyone wheeler-dealing, the jealously of multiple interleaved love-triangles and more. Passages describing Dyar’s drink- and then drug-induced hallucinations are impressive for their ability to explain the madness Dyar feels at being unable to free himself from his own paranoia. A dark ending after the comic beginning: the wages of sin! The author doesn’t find it necessary to tie up all the loose ends – just like real life: when it never rains but it pours.
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on 7 December 2000
It's a raw image of human relations presented by Bowles, in his clear descriptions, about an american caracter dealing with the fact that his western values become pointless and obsolete upon his arrival in Tangier. In a traditionally Islamic country, the city is divided in three different colonized areas, english, spanish and french, altogether called the international zone. As natives aknowledge the urge for independence, they do as much to currupt the imposed systems and make then cahotic. Illegal activities run the place leaving no room for the ingenuous Nelson Dyar, to fulfil his expectations of getting a job and start a better life. Exciting and disturbing.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 October 2014
Paul Bowles (1910 -- 1999) was an American loner and outsider. Bowles had a successful career as a composer in New York City, but in mid-life he changed to literature and moved to Tangier. After rereading Bowles' first and most famous novel, "The Sheltering Sky", I turned to Bowles' second novel, "Let it Come Down" (1952).

"Let it Come Down" is set in post- WW II Tangier, in the waning days when it constituted an international zone. During this time, Tangier was essentially lawless. It was a haven for expatriates with eccentric lifestyles including, for example, Bowles himself. The primary character in the novel is an American, Nelson Dyar, 30, who journeys to Tangier out of a vague feeling of boredom and dissatisfaction with his life in the United States. Dyar worked as a bank teller but had no real friends, love affairs, or interests. He moves to Tangier when an old acquaintance from childhood, Wilcox, invited him to join his travel agency, an inherently shady and questionable venture in the Tangier of the time.

Bowles' novel traces the gradual descent and change in character of the milquetoastish and indifferent main character. In its style, it is a mix. It has strong elements of humor and irony and in places almost becomes a comedy of manners. The prevailing tone is dark and brooding.

Through the hapless Dyar, Bowles offers a vivid portrayal of Tangier and its people. From the moment he gets off the boat, Dyar becomes emeshed in intrigue with other expatriates in Tangier and with the natives. His job with Wilcox immediately takes an illicit turn. The insufferably naïve Dyar finds a woman whom he takes to be the love of his life working in a brothel while she is also kept by a wealthy American woman. The book includes many scenes of parties among the wealthy expatriates and the more influential Arabs. The book also has scenes of narrow winding streets, dangerous bars, shabby hotels, and of the locals. Tangier in the book is incessantly drenched in rain. The book includes psychedelic scenes describing the use of hashish and kif, substances in which Bowles freely indulged when he moved to Tangier. With all the lightness of some of its parts, the book and Dyar's life descend inexorably into violence.

The book reads slowly. With all the action, depictions of place, and violence, the book includes a great deal of philosophizing about the need to let go of one's past and try to live and to enjoy life. Bowles' characters are trapped in their anger.

This second novel has the same broad themes as does "The Sheltering Sky" but is less effective in its long scenes of parties and expatriate society life than is the former novel with its unremitting starkness. The novel, nevertheless, is absorbing in its portrayal of Tangier and in its depiction of the face of a callow and initially unsuspecting young American. The novel is available individually or in a Library of America compilation of three novels of Paul Bowles.

Robin Friedman
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on 7 July 2008
I don't understand this novel's classic status at all, but, having enjoyed The Sheltering Sky, ploughed on and on hoping for some improvement or development, but found little. The main character seemed to do things for no reason, and many of the actions of the characters, and even their inclusion in the novel, seemed completely arbitrary. Some of the description of life in Tangiers was interesting, but I'd rather read Bowles' travel books for that; this was a novel, and I found it rather unsatisfying. Also, the book's blurb rather gave away the ending.
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on 13 August 2004
The blurb on the back cover does this book no justice at all. My (low) expectations were blown out of the water by a book that began in comic 50s style (a la "Lucky Jim" visits North Africa) with a bank clerk fleeing his dull but secure job to Tangiers.
After a dose of half-hearted hedonism, the book slowly but surely turns into black hole of nihilism. Think Camus. Think Battle of Algiers. That sort of thing.
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on 28 July 2008
I can't agree with the hyped reviews of this book. I found it terribly tedious; had no interest in any of the characters at all. A big expectation drop after Bowles' ***** Sheltering Sky
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on 22 June 2009
Paul Bowles had already established himself as an American composer when, at the age of 38, he published 'The Sheltering Sky' and became one of the most powerful writers after world war two. By the time of his death in 1999 he had become a legendary writer. From his base in Tangier he produced novels, stories, and travel writings. Bowles describes collisions between 'civilized' exiles and unfamiliar societies. In fiction of slowly growing menace, he achieves effects of horror and dislocation.

In 'Let It Come Down' ( 1952 ), Bowles tells the doomed trajectory of Nelson Dyer, a New York bank teller who comes to Tangier in search of a different life and ends up giving in to his darkest impulses. Rich in descriptions of the corruption and decadence of the International Zone in the last days before Moroccan independence, Bowles second novel is a comic and at the same time horror-like account of a descent into the pool of nihilism.

I give 4 stars because Bowles' philosophy is sometimes oversimplified and the comical can be childish. For instance one of the characters slips over a little heap of dung and he falls to the ground. But altogether this book is interesting for its mixture of adventure and vivid descriptions of Tangier and the surrounding landscapes.
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