I love the opening story of this collection "Am Strande von Tanger". From the opening scene setting sentences,"Barcelona at dawn. The hotels are dark. All the great avenues are pointing to the sea." To the last sentences which tie all together perfectly this story shows three lives mostly in the details and matter of fact happenings of a day trip to the sea. Nico is the central figure though and hers is the life we are focused on. We watch her struggle all through the story and realize she lacks what the others have, some connectedness to life or center, and she by stories end realizes it. As in many great short stories there is a key moment or epiphany where all in a moment is revealed to someone and that is the case in several of these stories. In "Twenty Minutes" a fallen rider has that much time to sum up her life. And in the title story "Dusk" a divorced womans loneliness is made all too poignant by Salters writing as the moment has come in her life that she realizes she will probably always be alone. Other memorable stories include a study of a film company which is told by the alternating voices of the players including scriptwriter, actor, actress, director, producer, and assistants. This stories kaliedoscope of voices is very fun to read as each player has a different take on what is going on in the production and each players personal insecurites effect that individual view of the overall picture. A very well crafted story that reminds one of a Fellini movie like La Dolca Vita in miniature where the sacred and profane compete for top billing. The military reunion story as well as the last story are forgettable. But "Foreign Shores" about a divorced woman's suspicions is a very good portrait of paranoia caused by suppressed personal anxieties. And the story "American Express", though about two unlikeable types who make a load of money and take a European tour together, is one of the better examples of gaining the world only to lose ones soul in the process(a film of this story will soon appear on PBS). Also three stories deal with failed artists, though each in a very distinct way. Hard to find a better collection than this.
Not Always Uplifting But Tremendous Nonetheless
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 19 years ago
I feel well written short stories are exceptional, and with, "Dusk And Other Stories", Mr. James Salter again demonstrates that his skills are not diminished when the length of his stories are. Short stories are often complete thoughts or fully played out events, however fragmentary they may be. Others tend to stop. They end. You wonder why. Those in the latter group I tend to dislike as a reasonable ending, even if vague, does not seem to be a great deal to ask. Some that I have read simply stop because the idea stopped. Some find this stylish I find it weak.Mr. Salter offers up the complete and the not so final in this book and they all are enjoyable. Even those that end abruptly like, "Am Strande von Tanger" feels less casually abrupt as the penultimate sentences or perhaps the paragraph brings closure. The remarks that are the final sentence seem less critical. In other stories like, "Dusk", the finality and completeness is almost brutal. The imagery of lost love and a dying bird in a field is poetic as writing and vicious as to the emotion it describes.If you have read any of this Author's other work you may find bits of characters that you have encountered in the past, or similar locales they have transited. The familiarity real or imagined is welcomed as it brings back other great moments in this man's work. I have read 4 of his novels and this collection of short stories, all are excellent some more so than others. If you were looking for a new Author you would be hard pressed to find higher quality writing than this.
The lost art of writing
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 20 years ago
I'm not sure where to begin with Salter. His felicity of style, his simple, yet simply luminous prose, his ability to expose ourselves without ripping away the veil, but rather to slowly and deftly unweave it, in a manner so mesmerising that you are entranced by the process, and only upon completion do you realise that the true rapture is the face, naked to your gaze.He isn't afraid to say what he wants, and that can be a little shocking sometimes, to our politically-correct selves. Lines like "He was part of that great, unchanging order of those who live by their wages, whose world is unlit and do not realize what is above" may sound pretentious, but it feels like through reading his work, one is gaining access to that state of grace.I could wax lyrical further -- and compare him to a pair of Rodin hands -- where there is the masterstroke from the distance, and the minutae that complete perfection. TO do so, would waste space. I simply exhort you to read him. Also try Andre Dubus, if you are a short story person...
Sad, meditative characters flashing back
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 20 years ago
Reading James Salter makes one appreciate the power of brevity, for his style is indeed terse and moving. Every word counts and every story abounds with a subtle grace. I quickly realized, after the first couple of stories, that Salter needs to be read in the morning when the brain is alert. Try reading him at night and you will quickly become lost in his quick changing of scenes, his sharp thrusts of dialogue, and his dexterous symbolism. I often had to re-read previous paragraphs for clarification. And when I thought Salter had erred in his writing, I realized instead that it was I who had erred in my reading. Dusk won the prestigious Pen-Faulkner award in 1989. It is composed of eleven stories whose scenes take place in both national and foreign settings. If you love hard-boiled action scenes, don't read James Salter, for his stories are the opposite: subtle and meditative. The characters, well, they do a lot of thinking. They ponder during their times of loneliness and defeat. Displacement and malcontent consume their thoughts and for them the better days lie in the past, days when they weren't old or divorced or estranged. I felt like whispering in their ears, saying "Hey, it can't be all that bad. Take a Zoloft and you'll be fine." Highly recommended book.
Glowing, beautiful, thoughtful prose that moves the reader.
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 24 years ago
Ahhh. The wonders of James Salter. Elegant prose. An economical use of language. Powerful verbless sentences. Why is this writer not more acclaimed? If you have a passion for great literature, pick up a copy of "Dusk." It is a collection of short stories that leaves the reader with a feeling of melancholy, happiness, wonder, and, on some occasions, even tears. Salters paints a world where we, the privileged reader, can glimpse the inner lives of characters who are so fully realized, we seem to know them in a personal, almost private way. He paints landscapes of America, Europe, and in particular, France, with a vivid palette of emotions. Whether it's a man who hears a mysterious word in the middle of the night, and, in his search for a full understanding, appears to go mad. Or a look into an older woman's life as she comes to terms with age, love lost, and possibly, love found. Or, my favorite in this collection: "Foreign Shores." It recalls the experiences of a housekeeper, her young charge and a mysterious lover she meets at the beach. Salters is a genius of the English language. If you want to discover the true power that fine fiction can have on the soul, read James Salters' "Dusk."
ThriftBooks sells millions of used books at the lowest everyday prices. We personally assess every book's quality and offer rare, out-of-print treasures. We deliver the joy of reading in 100% recyclable packaging with free standard shipping on US orders over $10. ThriftBooks.com. Read more. Spend less.