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James Salter Month

From the Archives: ‘Sundays’

April 8, 2011 | by

In honor of James Salter month, and in lieu of This Week’s Reading, we are opening our archives to share some of the many short stories that Salter published in the Review. “Sundays” (issue 38, 1966) is a sensual, contemplative story (and part of what we all have come to know as the novel A Sport and a Pastime). Every setting is intimate and quiet and seems to belong entirely to the couple at the center of the story: the bed they awake in, the lake they dip their faces in, the pines they picnic in, the cafe they take shelter in, and the bed to which they return:

They put their clothes on behind the car. No one else is around. Near to shore the surface of the water is broken by weeds. The leather seats are hot, and when Dean starts the engine small birds skim out ofthe grass and out across the lake.

They eat in Montsauche in a little auberge. Sunday. Everything is hushed. Dean sits looking out at the street. It’s a silent meal. Afterwards there is nothing to do. He feels as if he is taking care of a child. He is thinking of other things. The day seems long. They drive—Dean takes the top down and they head towards Nevers, the wind curving in, the sun on their backs. He begins to grow sleepy. They pull off the road.

They sit down under the trees. Pines. It’s very quiet. The dry cones click in the breeze. The shadow of branches is laid across their faces. Dean closes his eyes. He is almost asleep.

“Phillipe,” he hears her say.

“Yes.”

“I would like to make love in the woods sometime.”

“You’ve never done that?”

No.

“Strange,” he says.

“You have?”

He lies. “Yes.”

“I have never. Is it nice?”

“Yes,” he says. It’s the last thing he remembers.

Read the full story here and check back next week for more from the archives. To read essays from James Salter month, click here.

4 COMMENTS

3 Comments

  1. luke | April 8, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    awesome story, but there are a number of mistakes, unless (1) ‘dehberation’ is some arcane word i’ve never heard of, and (2) salter meant to write “They He down under the trees.” there are other weird combinations of words, too.

  2. luke | April 8, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    ‘dehberation’ instead of deliberation, ‘fohage’ instead of foliage . . . maybe it’s some weird kind of coding glitch?

  3. Thessaly La Force | April 8, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Ah, thank you–yes, indeed it’s a weird problem we have with converting files. We’ll fix that straight away.

1 Pingbacks

  1. [...] Finally, the Paris Review has a lot of great stuff. I love the day in the life piece about the editor of Paper hanging out with Duran Duran, but I was unaware of James Salter, a minimalist with a peculiar sense of the line. A lot of my writing bears witness to minimalists and borrows from Gibson, but Salter’s work is sketches with a firm hand the hard details of emotion as if history rains down sensations on a place. The Paris Review has made some of his short stories available. [...]

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