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 Interwoven among Cherie's narrative are bits and pieces of Paul's previously unpublished writings -- diarylike fragments, retellings of dreams, little stories -- a sharp counterpoint in his inimitable voice.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.
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