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Dusk and Other Storiesby James Salter
Synopses & Reviews
Am Strande von Tanger
Barcelona at dawn. The hotels are dark. All the great avenues are pointing to the sea.
The city is empty. Nico is asleep. She is bound by twisted sheets, by her long hair, by a naked arm which falls from beneath her pillow. She lies still, she does not even breathe.
In a cage outlined beneath a square of silk that is indigo blue and black, her bird sleeps, Kalil. The cage is in an empty fireplace which has been scrubbed clean. There are flowers beside it and a bowl of fruit. Kalil is asleep, his head beneath the softness of a wing.
Malcolm is asleep. His steel-rimmed glasses which he does not need- there is no prescription in them-lie open on the table. He sleeps on his back and his nose rides the dream world like a keel. This nose, his mother's nose or at least a replica of his mother's, is like a theatrical device, a strange decoration that has been pasted on his face. It is the first thing one notices about him. It is the first thing one likes. The nose in a sense is a mark of commitment to life. It is a large nose which cannot be hidden. In addition, his teeth are bad.
At the very top of the four stone spires which Gaudi left unfinished the light has just begun to bring forth gold inscriptions too pale to read. There is no sun. There is only a white silence. Sunday morning, the early morning of Spain. A mist covers all of the hills which surround the city. The stores are closed.
Nico has come out on the terrace after her bath. The towel is wrapped around her, water still glistens on her skin.
It's cloudy, she says. It's not a good day for the sea.
Malcolm looks up.
It may clear, he says.
Morning. Villa-Lobos is playing on the phonograph. The cage is on a stool in the doorway. Malcolm lies in a canvas chair eating an orange. He is in love with the city. He has a deep attachment to it based in part on a story by Paul Morand and also on an incident which occurred in Barcelona years before: one evening in the twilight Antonio Gaudi, mysterious, fragile, even saintlike, the city's great architect, was hit by a streetcar as he walked to church. He was very old, white beard, white hair, dressed in the simplest of clothes. No one recognized him. He lay in the street without even a cab to drive him to the hospital. Finally he was taken to the charity ward. He died the day Malcolm was born.
The apartment is on Avenida General Mitre and her tailor, as Nico calls him, is near Gaudi's cathedral at the other end of town. It's a working-class neighborhood, there's a faint smell of garbage. The site is surrounded by walls. There are quatrefoils printed in the sidewalk. Soaring above everything, the spires. Sanctus, sanctus, they cry. They are hollow. The cathedral was never completed, its doors lead both ways into open air. Malcolm has walked, in the calm Barcelona evening, around this empty monument many times. He has stuffed peseta notes, virtually worthless, into the slot marked: DONATIONS TO CONTINUE THE WORK. It seems on the other side they are simply falling to the ground or, he listens closely, a priest wearing glasses locks them in a wooden box.
Malcolm believes in Malraux and Max Weber: art is the real history of nations. In the details of his person there is evidence of a process not fully complete. It is the making of a man into a true instrument. He is preparing for the arrival of that great artist h
Offers a collection of stories that expose the surface beauty of relationships and places, as well as their underlying flaws, reflecting the moments, experiences, and details that shape lives.
“ James Salter] can suggest in a single sentence, an individual’s entire history, the complex interplay of longing and fear, hope and need, that has brought about the present. In doing so, these stories glimmer with the magic of fiction; they pull us, hungrily, into the mundane drama of their characters’ lives.”—New York Times
“Salter’s prose is rare and stunning.”—John Irving
“Salter inhabits the same rarified heights as Flannery O’Connor, Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams, and John Cheever.”—Washington Post Book World
“There is scarcely a writer alive who could not learn from his passion and precision of language.”—Peter Mathiessen
“Admirers of James Salter’s fiction speak of it reverently, with delicacy, almost in awe, expressions of enthusiasm befitting the work.”—Elizabeth Benedict
From the Hardcover edition.
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.
Philip Gourevitch is the author of We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, A Cold Case, and The Ballad of Abu Ghraib. He has served as editor of The Paris Review and is a longtime staff writer for The New Yorker.
Table of Contents
Am strande von Tanger — Twenty minutes — American express — Foreign shores — The cinema — Lost sons — Akhnilo — Dusk — Via negativa — The destruction of the Goetheanum — Dirt.
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