Stuff I Like - James Salter:

"James Salter"

James Salter's writings have inspired me for a long time. His insights into human interactions and the inner dialog of men, are timeless. My favorite book of his is called "Dusk." It's a collection of short stories, mostly about a young man roaming Europe, love affairs in hotel rooms there, etc. He brings a beautiful poetry to the sexuality of that time in one's life. Here's the text from "Still Such" a short special edition book of his, not a novel but an essay, a nostalgic recollection of his life in New York:

Down Fifth with the tail-lights, dark, the wet street gleaming, city where I always lived, school and all the rest: curly haired friend confiding what he'd done with Faith in her parents' apartment on 83rd , innocent she was, so were others. Thinking of first times, many near here, first duck at Ethel Reiner's in her dining room on the third floor, first fight outside the Egyptian Wing with two scrawny brothers, first failed course French, first sex in the Picadilly shrewdly she married another, girl from the New Yorker coming for a drink in Longchamps, smooth air washing in her windows like the cabin on a ship, cool, dawn near, whole city for your happiness, thick newspapers each morning, hasty lunches, night roamings, new people, films, embracing like drunkards in the Metropolitian, rose torsos, all slowly giving way to structure, love beautiful and calm clinging dress she wore at the reception and then more firsts, apartment near Gracie Square, clever dog, first real money a fifteen thousand dollar check, first child a girl, Sunday mornings, winter city silver and grey, silent windows along Madison, colors of Sonia Delaunay, rich friends in the sixties dressing for the evening, cufflinks dense gold, wives deep in sofas, laughter, lunch at Brittany, lunch in summer heat, brilliant images of afternoon high in the St. Regis, the nakedness, fall, gin's icy bite, leaving with turned -up collar scarf, "That's the way they wear it, darling, label out, like that." first country life, first European, first clap, buildings coming down in rubble, thieves, divorce, in leaden days that follow comes the fortieth year, first lines in brow, first failing, at the bar an ash blonde, perfect voice, Cole Porter evenings, dusk falling, clean clothes, freshly bathed, try it all once more, at Gallagher's the broad unmarked champion. "Go over and talk to him," whispering "What will I say?" the gorgeous face and glasses, "Tell him he looks familiar, anything," watching from the back as she walks.

Waves of the new then, arrogant chic, leather beret, cognac brown jacket, beside him the stunning she, slick red jersey, paratroop cap, and earring in one nostril fine as gold thread. Doors that have closed, first friends down, Populous and smoky city, first weariness, first scorn of praise, streets renamed, vows forgotten, small justice shown and still less pity ...

Cars swim down the avenue, it's late, young faces glimpsed on a corner, other nights, other years in the rain, watching them vanish, dark at the bow, crossed the meridian at last, all over now, all beginning.

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