‘American Express’ by James Salter

Salter, James 1988 American Express by James Salter, 1988

The magic trick:

Imparting a memorable idea

Salter is most famous, I gather, for his artfully mannered sentences. That’s nice. I noticed more than a couple here. I wasn’t, however, particularly taken with the story or the characters. It feels very ’80s. What resonated, more than anything, was one particular quote. Frank is extricating himself from a would-be relationship, saying, “Women fall in love when they get to know you. Men are just the opposite. When they finally know you they’re ready to leave.” This is a very deep statement. Is it perhaps total condescending bullshit passed off as it is by the story’s lead creep? Perhaps. But it has stuck with me in the weeks since I read the story and left me debating its philosophical merits. And that’s quite a trick on Salter’s part.

The selection:

They lay silently. She was starting at something across the room. She was making him feel uncomfortable. “It wouldn’t work. It’s the attraction of opposites,” he said.

“We’re not opposites.”

“I don’t mean just you and me. Women fall in love when they get to know you. Men are just the opposite. When they finally know you they’re ready to leave.”

She got up without saying anything and began gathering her clothes. He watched her dress in silence. There was nothing interesting about it. The funny thing was that he had meant to go on with her.

“I’ll get you a cab,” he said.

Advertisements


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s