Procrastinate Better

Read a Reissued Modern Classic

James Salter is one of those writers who can make a reader stop short with emotion and surprise merely by the turn of a single lean sentence. So it’s no wonder he’s a master of the short story—the real shock is that his collection Dusk and Other Stories , winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award when it first appeared in 1988, fell out of print for so long. It was recently reissued by the Modern Library with an introduction by Phillip Gourevitch, who says that Salter “seems prepared to allow himself anything.” His stories take place mostly among a wealthy set, with unsparing detail that’s sparingly deployed: The too-thin legs and hair-sprouting mole of a beautiful-upon-first-impression divorcee. The utter disinterest with which a man watches his girlfriend dress on the night she attempts to coerce him into marriage. All these particulars add up to reveal distinctly modern versions of unhappiness that brings the reader an intense pleasure unknown to Salter’s characters.

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