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Last Nightby James Salter
Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed author of A Sport and a Pastime, Light Years, and Solo Faces, a superbly accomplished new collection that explores his signature themes: love, honor, sacrifice, friendship, and abandon.
In these taut, powerful stories, Salter portrays men and women in their most intimate moments. A book dealer faces the truth about his life — as it is and never will be again — when he is visited unexpectedly by his brash former girlfriend. A lonely married woman, after a disturbing encounter with a drunken poet at a dinner party, finds herself irresistibly drawn to his animal surrogate, a huge tawny-eyed dog. A lover of poetry must come to terms with his wife's request to give up what may be his most treasured relationship. And in the title story, already hailed by Frank Conroy as a masterpiece, clearly and without question, a translator, tormented by an agonizing sense of inevitability, assists in his wife's suicide even as he arranges a last betrayal.
A spellbinding work of fiction — a symphony of desire, memory, and loss — from one of our most compelling and important literary voices at work today.
"Teetering marriages, collapsing relationships and other calamities of the heart drive these 10 compact, unsettling stories by respected writer Salter (A Sport and a Pastime, etc.). The title story is especially impressive — when Walter Much and his seriously ill wife, Marit, agree that he will assist in her suicide, Marit insists that Susanna, a mutual friend, come over to keep them company in her final moments. Nothing goes as planned, however, and Walter's double betrayal of his wife ushers in the haunting conclusion. The reunion stories are equally compelling: in 'Palm Court,' a man who initially failed to marry the love of his life meets her years later after her divorce only to find himself overwhelmed and distraught by the mixed feelings she rouses in him. 'Bangkok' offers a different take on the reunion angle, as a woman tries to tempt an old flame into joining her and her female traveling companion on a sexually adventurous, last-second trip to the Far East, despite his being happily married and claiming to be satisfied with his sedate, settled life. The reserved, elegiac nature of Salter's prose and his mannered, well-bred characters lend the collection a distanced tone, but at their best these are stirring stories, worthy additions to a formidable body of work." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Matchless narrative economy and surgically precise prose are the identifying marks of this exemplary gathering of ten stories by veteran author Salter....One of the masters displays his wares, to stunning effect." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Salter's genius is most apparent in the effectiveness of his short and direct dialogue, which he uses not only to reflect real people talking but also to distill character to sheer essence." Booklist (Starred Review)
"As nearly perfect as any American fiction I know." Reynolds Price
"[T]he maestro constantly stirs you as you read, with the force of his language and the news it brings about our own experience, and the experiences of others." Chicago Tribune
A superbly accomplished new collection explores the acclaimed author's signature themes: love, honor, sacrifice, friendship, and abandon. In these taut, powerful stories, Salter portrays men and women in their most intimate moments.
About the Author
James Salter is the author of the novels Solo Faces, Light Years, A Sport and a Pastime, The Arm of Flesh (revised as Cassada), and The Hunters; the memoirs Gods of Tin and Burning the Days; and the collection, Dusk and Other Stories which won the 1989 PEN/Faulkner Award. He lives in Colorado and on Long Island.
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