Reading list: James Salter

  • March 5th, 2012

    Due to technical difficulties, I seem to have lost— in fact, deleted by my own blundering—my original post. Somebody recently suggested I start a reading list on my site, so with that in mind this is the first entry under that title.

    A Sport And A Pastime, for the simple reason that it was the first book of his I read, and also the one that has stayed with me ever since. Literally. I picked it up back in 2006, before a brief escape into the paradise of Turkey’s of Turkey’s Lycian and Aegean coasts, and have yet to relinquish this copy. I have bought other copies, and loaned them out, but it’s the one book I never put down. I’ve read it from start to finish many times, but I have often carried it with me to pop open at random and read, if only to remind myself what good writing is whenever I feel lost.

    The book tells the story of a love affair between a Yale dropout and French shopgirl as they tour France. The nameless narrator recounts their tale in fragments. What he tells has been told to him, observed by him and imagined by him. Salter’s France is as vivid as the real thing.

    I’ve accorded Mr Salter’s book my first reading list post for a simple reason. No other writer has taught me so much about good writing in the last ten years as Mr Salter. His prose is, in a word, luminous. Five words of Salter’s can render an image as vivid as even the best photographs.

    If you’ve read this book, I’d love to know what you think. If you haven’t, I can’t recommend it, or his other writings for that matter, enough.

One Comment

  • Maximo Pepin 03.05.2012  

    I am so grateful for your blog.Thanks Again. Cool.

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