Like the Cat in the Cafe || Prose & Poetry by James Salter



James Salter words' first appeared in the 1966 issue of The Paris Review. His writing often is described as compressed, with short sentences and sentence fragments. He switches between first and third persons, as well as between the present and past tenses. Salter published a collection of short stories, Dusk and Other Stories in 1988. Enjoy the little excurse into his glorious words.

They are still in bed.
Windows open to the morning coolness.

A face without makeup, skin no shine.
A cheap look in the morning, young. 
They wake at the same instant, like actors.


Like the cat in the cafe.
Opening eyes to find me staring
Images are repeating themselves.
There's nothing I can do.

They crowd in on me.


To write?


Because all this is going to vanish. 
The only thing left will be the prose and poems.
The books, what is written down.
We are fortunate to have invented the book.
Without, the past would completely vanish.
We would be left with nothing.
Naked on earth.






What matters?


The rock is like the surface of the sea, constant yet never the same.
Two climbers going over the identical route will each manage in a different way. Their reach is not the same, their confidence, their desire.




Sometimes you are aware when great moments are happening.
Sometimes they rise from the past, perhaps it’s the same with people.

These places, I can’t do this, I know I can’t do this, I’m certain I can’t do it, but I have to do it, I know I have to.  You would give anything to be somewhere besides there, but there’s no use thinking about it.
In the end, it uplifts you somehow.
You have to go on.








You are perfectly entitled to invent your life and to claim that it’s true.
Ours is a culture that enshrines the ephemeral.
Humour comes largely from not caring.
Dreams and work.



A woman, in a white summer shirt and bare legs.


PS: Find me on Snapchat

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1 comment

  1. His brevity is so sorely missed. You can also feel the 1960s in his verse. Thanks for this post, Finja.
    Incidentally, talking about languages, ‘finja’ in Portuguese is the subjunctive of the verb to pretend. As in, ‘finja’ that you’re feeling outraged by the suggestion. I think it was Noam Chomsky one of the pioneers in the field of search for a common root to all languages, even if without much success. While some primordial words seem to share a point of connection, across entirely diverse tongues, most of the time, they’ve got so many thousands of years of additions and flexions and compressions attached to them, that if today they still sound or spell alike, it’s more like a mere coincidence. Cheers

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