Last Night by James Salter

 Ann Beattie, James Salter, Literary, Steve Weddle, women's fiction  Comments Off on Last Night by James Salter
Apr 112012

By Steve Weddle

I’m going to do you all a big favor today–I’m going to get out of the way. You’re welcome.

First, though, let me point you over to the new CD from Chris LaTray. His band, American Falcon, has new tunes out, which you can snag right here. I’ve been listening to the songs for the past week, and I guess you could describe them as a mix between Urge Overkill and The Cult. You’ll want to listen for yourself, of course.

Now, please allow me to point you to some additional awesomeness. I was reading an article in TheRumpus called “Beyond The Measure of Men,” about the alleged war of women’s fiction vs literary fiction I mentioned last week.

Vying with works from Bonnie Jo Campbell and Alan Heathcock and a couple others, one of my favorite collections of literary fiction this past year has been THE NEW YORKER STORIES from Ann Beattie. A remarkable collection. The story called “Coping Stones,” in particular, is amazing in its ability to exist as both crime fiction and literary fiction. Well, those New Yorker kids have done it again.

The Women V. Literature article at TheRumpus mentioned a James Salter collection called LAST NIGHT. This one could be my new favorite.

In another story, a group of friends catches up on their lives and at the end, we learn that one of them is dying, doesn’t know how to share that news, and so she tells a stranger, her cab driver, who in the wake of her confession, frankly assesses her appearance.

That sounds like my kind of story–sad, awkward, with a glimpse of beauty. So I read “Last Night,” as it was available at The New Yorker online. The story is soul-wrenching and can be found here.

And as if that weren’t enough, Thomas McGuane picked that James Salter story to read and talk about in a New Yorker podcast here. So if you’d rather hear Mr. McGuane read it and discuss it with Deborah Treisman, there you go.

By the way, The Paris Review recently celebrated Salter’s writing here, including this interview.