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The Spider's House

Narrated by: Peter Ganim
Length: 16 hrs and 10 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

Non-member price: $34.76

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Publisher's Summary

Set in Fez, Morocco, during that country's 1954 nationalist uprising, The Spider's House is perhaps Paul Bowles's most beautifully subtle novel, richly descriptive of its setting and uncompromising in its characterizations. Exploring once again the dilemma of the outsider in an alien society, and the gap in understanding between cultures - recurrent themes of Paul Bowles' writings - The Spider's House is dramatic, brutally honest, and shockingly relevant to today's political situation in the Middle East and elsewhere.

©1955 Paul Bowles (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Paul Bowles is a storyteller of the utmost purity and integrity. He writes of a world before God became man; a world in which men and women in extremis are seen as components in a larger, more elemental drama. His prose is crystalline and his voice unique…. Paul Bowles is sui generis." (Joyce Carol Oates)

What listeners say about The Spider's House

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    3 out of 5 stars

What a pity about the narrator

I really looked forward to listening to a Paul Bowles book, but the narrator unfortunately spoiled it. He's really hard to listen to, making the book sound too much like a sermon. This is tedious, especially as the tone of the story is already a bit heavy/dramatic.

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great listen while in Morocco.


insight into the mind of both local and foreign in Morocco during the independence period

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  • D. Donohue
  • 05-03-2013

Delicious

Where does The Spider's House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It is up towards the top.

What other book might you compare The Spider's House to and why?

I just finished the Bowles short stories and it is a great reward. I am pleased with that sequence.

What does Peter Ganim bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He is REALLY GREAT. I LOVE his voice for this.

Who was the most memorable character of The Spider's House and why?

Everyone was fascinating. Bowles is fascinating. One cannot help but wonder what comes from him, as he is so iconic.

Any additional comments?

I never read Bowles. I am so converted to him thanks to Audible. I have had a big project in a damp cold warehouse in the winter and these hot dry tales of North Africa have been my constant companion and cure. It was an inspired pairing!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Annie
  • 06-01-2016

1950's arab spring

Set in Fez during French rule/occupation. Some insight into orthodox Islam and the Western conflicts- Apparently the sharp differences of faith, culture and world view are inherent and ancient in the Middle East . The Spider's House- apt title, reminds me socio economic woes of the Arab underclass are at the root of todays radical attacks.

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  • hfffoman
  • 08-01-2014

Slow and full of insight

Any additional comments?

This is a very slow read full of minute observation and probably won't appeal to everyone. However, it is acutely insightful both of the politics of Morocco under French rule and of the psychology of the main characters (who are not entirely likeable). It is also very illuminating about Islam and gave me new understanding and sympathy for the religion. It was worth listening to the book for that alone. The reader is not my favourite but just gets 5 stars.

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  • Richard
  • 18-06-2020

Mixed blessing.

Admirers can rest assured that this novel from 1955 finds Bowles on top form. Written in the year following his move from Morocco to Ceylon, it's a valedictory tale to the medieval cultural consciousness of old Islamic Fez on the cusp of revolutionary revision in the wake of French colonialism and the impact of post-war global politics. Unsentimental and yet poetic, it presents a convincingly perceptive depiction informed by the restrained sensuality customary in this author's work.

It's a beautiful book but be warned.

Unfortunately, the impeccably fine prose-style is stepped-on pretty severely by Peter Ganim's reading in this audio edition. Ganim's delivery involves him turning and shaping every passage in a highly mannered performance style. An American, he sounds similar to Rod Sterling introducing the The Twilight Zone. Hard to compensate for that when listening for Bowles.

It beggars belief that producers of audio books go to all the trouble and expense of making these recordings and yet so frequently apply such poor editorial judgement in the casting of readers. In this case, Ganim seems to have taken particular care to get pronunciation of Arabic words convincing (at least to a Westerner's ear) only to coat the entire thing in a repetitive, plastic stylisation completely at odds with the subtle transparency of the original text.

What poor taste. Shame on the producers.