Last Night by James Salter (2002) and author’s anniversary month.
Tuesday’s Tale, June 11, 2019
Poet Walt Whitman said that “nothing can happen more beautiful than death.” Several poets—Rainer Maria Rilke included—believe death to be “our friend.” So a short story about choosing to die, when and how, already has a mysterious power going for it.
Meet Walter, a translator of Russian and German poetry, and his wife Marit who is seriously ill. This is the Last Night of her life, as she and Walter have planned it.
This story is masterful and highly polished. A beguiling tale full of emotional shadows. It takes a great deal of talent and skill to construct a short story that is fulfilling and reaches deep into the heart, and author James Salter (born June 10, 1925, yesterday the anniversary of his birth) wrote this with insight and empathy. Salter is not as famous as authors Roth or Updike, and you might not have heard of him. He’s often referred to as the forgotten hero of American Literature. He’s a stylist and a purist.
Honestly, if you love great writing and great stories, you have got to experience Salter’s Last Night.
Read Last Night here at the New Yorker Magazine:
Salter died June 15, 2015 in Sag Harbor, NY.
James Salter, born in New Jersey, grew up in New York City, was an American fiction writer and screenwriter whose work is characterized by a careful, economical use of language and by themes that often involve the passage of time and the losses experienced along the way.
Meet James Salter on YouTube.com (3 minutes)
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