Reprinted by Black Sparrow Press, 1980
ISBN 0-87685-480-3

See also: Interview with Paul Bowles

Though The Sheltering Sky is perhaps Paul Frederic Bowles' (1910-1999) best known book, one stumbling upon his lesser known works finds many of the same themes intact. Let It Come Down is no exception. Set in Morocco, where Mr. Bowles lived most of his life from the late 1940's on, we are inundated with a landscape so bleak that it succeeds in stripping the characters bare. As in many of his other Moroccan tales, the weather and the sky play important roles as mirrors of the characters' emotions. In The Sheltering Sky, the expanse of wide blue sky speaks of desire for escape. But in Let It Come Down we get not the endless sky, but oppressive, heavy clouds and never-ending rain.
        Dyar, the main character, an American fresh from an unspectacular and uneventful life in New York City, comes to Morocco after locating a childhood acquaintance, some sort of travel agent, who is living in the International Zone in Tangiers. The friend invites him to Morocco, and with nothing to ground him in New York, or anywhere else for that matter, Dyar goes off to work for the friend in the travel agency.
        What we get in Dyar, as Bowles describes him, is a hero who is a non-entity, a self-described victim whose personality is defined solely in terms of situation. He elicits sympathy only to the extent to which he is victimized. Dyar is a small man with small dreams who has never really lived, and those stunted passions work their way to the surface in Morocco, intertwining him with a situation that eventually pushes him to the abyss. The title, taken from a passage in Macbeth when Banquo remarks about the weather to men outside his home who are preparing to set upon him with knives ("Let it [Rayne] come downe."), reflects Let it Come Down's reality and supreme irony. Dyar seems to misinterpret the motives of all he comes across; those highly cynical interpretations lead to poor readings of his situation.
        Let it Come Down is a superior book to The Sheltering Sky in terms of plotting and momentum. Themes of alienation and aloneness pervade one as in the other. Where it is inferior is in its somewhat detective story-like plot, or in the feeling of unsteadiness one gets about the "theft" situation in which Dyar eventually finds himself. Perhaps Paul Bowles created a thrilling situation as a means of accentuating Dyar's relatively boring life.
        I have not read Paul Bowles' biographies, other than short blurbs about his life as a composer, writer and traveler, and so I wouldn't venture into an interpretation of the Dyar character as a composite of the author. Mr. Bowles does say about this book that Dyar is the only character that was truly invented, while all the rest were amalgamations of people he knew in Tangier. Questions of self and perception are main topics. Dyar has no strong inner life and is a reflection of what others feed him of himself. When he tries to break free he commits to a reckless decision. He is ruined by the realization he has stepped out of his place.
        Where Bowles does his finest work is in the small things, the small descriptions of markets and people on the streets, the weather and the landscape, which bring Dyar's sensations to the reader with a sense of foreboding and menace. As with The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles paints a bleak landscape full of flawed characters who are sometimes cartoonish, sometimes convincing--at times rough, at times clean as a diamond cut. Therein lies his ability to make them real.