Books: Steps off the Beaten Path

COLLECTED STORIES: 1939-1976 by Paul Bowles Black Sparrow; 417pages; $14 hardcover, $6 paper

Paul Bowles is a Renaissance man born into an age that applauds specialization. Doing several things very well indeed has, paradoxically, brought him less public acclaim than he might have received had he stuck to one. Bowles, 68, has been a distinguished composer; in 1947 Musician Virgil Thomson called him "America's most original and skillful composer of chamber music." He has written music for the stage, particularly for the plays of his friend Tennessee Williams. He has also been a...

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