Cover image for Yesterday's perfume : an intimate memoir of Paul Bowles
Yesterday's perfume : an intimate memoir of Paul Bowles
Nutting, Cherie.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Clarkson Potter, [2000]

Physical Description:
239 pages : illustrations (some color), color map ; 29 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3552.O874 Z76 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



Fifteen years ago, Cherie Nutting returned to Morocco. She had first visited it as a child with her mother, and the images of mystery and the desert had stayed with her, fueled over the years by accounts of expatriate life and by the literature created there. In Tangier again, she met the most famous of the expatriates and author of the classic The Sheltering Sky . Cherie became a friend of Paul Bowles and part of his circle. Over the years, the friendship deepened and widened.

Yesterday's Perfume is a memoir of that friendship and of Cherie's love of Morocco. She had unparalleled access to Paul, and recorded, journal-like, their conversations and the events of everyday life. Interwoven among Cherie's narrative are bits and pieces of Paul's previously unpublished writings -- diarylike fragments, retellings of dreams, little stories -- a sharp counterpoint in his inimitable voice.

Unlike most memoirs, Yesterday's Perfume is blessed with a wealth of extraordinary images. Cherie has created a visual record of their friendship, capturing intimate moments, making formal portraits, recording the comings and goings of celebrities and friends. And here, too, the dialogue with Bowles continues, for Paul has jotted down his reactions in the borders and on the prints.

Several other friends have contributed to these pages, Peter Beard, Ned Rorem, and Bruce Weber among them. But key is the collaboration of Cherie and Paul. Together they have created a touching portrait of friendship and a road map to the mind of an artist.

Author Notes

CHERIE NUTTING is a photographer whose work has been published in major magazines as well as on many world music album covers. She lives in New York City.

With a career that spanned nearly all the major artistic movements of the twentieth century, PAUL BOWLES's influence as composer and author became as legendary as the man himself. Gore Vidal claimed that Bowles was "one of the three most interesting writers in the United States," an opinion that has gained credence in recent years. His influence on writers in the latter half of the century is enormous. From his first publication in the surrealist magazine transition, he was at the cutting edge of the avant-garde in both music and writing. His death in Tangier in 1999 marked the end of an era.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

The scrapbook format lends a publication a whimsical flavor and its creator the opportunity to experiment with material other than words to legitimize impressions or to dress up information. Executed well, the technique is referred to as collage. From the appearance of this book, one could characterize Nutting as an exceptional collage artist. It's utterly enjoyable to page through this book, delighting at the interplay between Nutting's impressionistic photographs and the various written messages--the letters, captions, first-person narrative, passages from Bowles' journals. The experience can be likened to viewing an old scrapbook that reeks with the scent of a flower or two pressed between its pages. On the contrary, Nutting's intriguing collages display an obsession with a country (Morocco), a book (The Sheltering Sky), and a man (Paul Bowles) that fueled a great friendship and a long-lasting adventure. She met him in 1986 and they were friends (although at times Nutting seems to imagine they were lovers, and on more than one occasion records her jealousy of Jane Bowles) until his death in 1999. The portrait of Bowles she offers is that of a sensual, vital, and mysterious man, interesting to the very end. --Bonnie Smothers