The ReRead Project

I bought this book 30 years ago. As a young writer, I remember being mesmerized by Jane’s adventures with her husband Paul, also a writer. They travelled to Mexico and Morocco, they had exotic adventures and a totally open marriage. I liked the whole idea of a traveling writer. Being so fun, parties all the time, drinking and being carefree. I knew I’d want to read it again someday, after I retired from my job, could travel and my kids were grown and had lives of their own. Well that day is now. I’ve done a few of these rereads, but really I’m addicted to my Kindle. And I like different kind of books now.

Thirty years ago, I wrote poetry and literary short stories. Short things I could do between everything else. Jane never did anything, she had maids and cooks and her husband pampered her. She could be drunk all day every day and sometimes she did that. I loved her strangeness. She was a really odd person. I thought she was cool. She was famous, as her husband was a composer and a writer and they were just high society darlings. My main memory is of being so taken by her lifestyle. To live in Morocco! To cook over an open fire! To have exotic pets! To write, write, write.

Thirty years later, I finished reading Who is Maud Dixon by Alexandra Andrews on my beloved Kindle and part of the book was set in Morocco. I thought of the Jane Bowles bio immediately and decided it was my next read. I do still like reading real books sometimes. It’s just the Kindle is easier, faster, immediate gratification. It helps my old eyes. I’m about 125 pages in and maybe I won’t finish it. I’m disappointed in my younger self, that I could be so shallow and not see that Jane was possibly (probably) mentally ill. She was always losing her shoes, but she didn’t care, she went barefoot. And if she stepped in glass, well she was usually so drunk she didn’t know. Or care. She published little but drank a great deal. Her husband was a saint. Jane was a lesbian, it seems to me now, or bisexual, as was Paul, and I think that all went over my head at the time. Nothing wrong with their sexuality but it seems a little sad to old conventionally married me. They did not have that closeness, although Paul wanted it. After a few years Jane just said, nope that shop’s closed. And then she flaunted her affairs. She was irresponsible with money and would leave Paul to clean up the finances.

On a whim she’d sell a house and tell Paul later! “We’re moving to Mexico.” Or whatever. I am shaking my head at how I could ever think I wanted a life like that. I’m not sure I did…I threw away all my journals, a habit I keep to this day. My children don’t need to know Mom’s inner thoughts. They have my novels if they want to know me. They have my blog. I think kids just want a regular mom and that’s what I am. And a doting granny. Jane never had children, at least I don’t think so. I’m not that far into the book yet. There is something endearing about Jane. I’m glad she got through her crazy life okay and managed to write a few slim books that were strange reading even then. She was an original. I’m just me, and I like it that way. Reading thrillers with female protagonists and all by new writers like Andrews. I can’t believe it’s her first novel. It’s really good.

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