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The Short Form

“Am Strande von Tanger”

James Salter

Excerpt

Malcolm believes in Malraux and Max Weber: art is the real history of nations. In the details of his person there is evidence of a process not fully complete. It is the making of a man into a true instrument. He is preparing for the arrival of that great artist he one day expects to be, an artist in the truly modern sense which is to say without accomplishments but with the conviction of genius. An artist freed from the demands of craft, an artist of concepts, generosity, his work is the creation of the legend of himself. So long as he is provided with even a single follower he can believe in the sanctity of this design.

He is happy here. He likes the wide, tree-cool avenues, the restaurants, the long evenings. He is deep in the currents of a slow, connubial life.

Nico comes onto the terrace wearing a wheat-colored sweater.

“Would you like a coffee?” she says. “Do you want me to go down for one?”

He thinks for a moment.

“Yes,” he says.

“How do you like it?”

“Solo,” he says.

“Black.”

She likes to do this.

We read it in Dusk and Other Stories.

Originally published in The Paris Review No. 44.