Monday 2 February 2015

After my first ever visit to a spa, I re-read James Salter stories. These choices seem implacable. You look along the shelves and James Salter, suddenly, is the one who fits the post-spa experience.

Last Night (2005) is more spare than Dusk (1988). Very male. Very officer and gentleman. Very onlooker if not wishful thinking. Regretful, lascivious, elegant. People always on the verge of generic, just glancing through, light and fateful, their names esoteric as healing herbs, their stories intermingling and then separate as if never before.

Reading as detox might be worth pursuing. Kafka said a book should sting. Sometimes the sting is unease. Disturbance in the internal weather. A complex frontal system on every other page.
He was later to tell her that words are no accident, their arrangement and choice was like another voice speaking, a voice which revealed everything. Vocabulary was like fingerprints, he said, like handwriting, like the body which revealed the invisible soul, which expressed it.
You don't always know who's speaking in his stories – and he uses the French indent rather than English inverted commas  – which plunges you further into the moment because you now and then you think that one of them must be you.

During the spa experience none of them was me, except parts of my body when they were massaged. What I don't know about the spa experience afterwards, is what, in weight, I don't know at the end of a James Salter story. Massage can be painful.

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