James-Salter

I’m tired of my life, my clothes, the things I say. I’m hacking away at the surface, as at some kind of gray ice, trying to break through to what is underneath or I am dead. I can feel the surface trembling—it seems ready to give but it never does. I am uninterested in current events. How can I justify this? How can I explain it? I don’t want to have the same vocabulary I’ve always had. I want something richer, broader, more penetrating and powerful.
—  James Salter, Memorable Days: The Selected Letters of James Salter and Robert Phelps
I’m tired of my life, my clothes, the things I say. I’m hacking away at the surface, as at some kind of gray ice, trying to break through to what is underneath or I am dead. I can feel the surface trembling—it seems ready to give but it never does. I am uninterested in current events. How can I justify this? How can I explain it? I don’t want to have the same vocabulary I’ve always had. I want something richer, broader, more penetrating and powerful.
—  Memorable Days: The Selected Letters of James Salter and Robert Phelps (James Salter)

“Great lovers lie in hell, the poet says. Even now, long afterwards, I cannot destroy the images. They remain within me like the yearnings of an addict. I need only hear certain words, see certain gestures, and my thoughts begin to tumble. I despise myself for thinking of her. Even if she were dead, I would feel the same. Her existence blackens my life.” - James Salter, A Sport and a Pastime

Today’s top item in Book News: Ginny Weasley, the freckly, flame-haired girl who later marries Harry Potter, grows up to be a sports journalist, according to new writing from J.K. Rowling on the website Pottermore. (Login required.) The stories are Ginny’s dispatches from the 2014 Quidditch World Cup for the magical newspaper The Daily Prophet. “Not a single Quaffle thrown, not a single Snitch caught, but the 427th Quidditch World Cup is already mired in controversy,” she writes. “Magizoologists have congregated in the desert to contain the mayhem and Healers have attended more than 300 crowd members suffering from shock, broken bones and bites.”

Also today, Ian McEwan on having dinner with Salman Rushdie during the fatwa, and James Salter remembers Peter Matthiessen. Read more here.

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. Man was very fortunate to have invented the book. Without it the past would completely vanish, and we would be left with nothing, we would be naked on earth.
—  James Salter
I’m not the first person who feels that it’s the writer’s true occupation to travel. In a certain sense, a writer is an exile, an outsider, always reporting on things, and it is part of his life to keep on the move. Travel is natural. Furthermore, many men of ancient times died on the road, and the image is a strong one.
—  James Salter, The Art of Fiction No. 133
I’m tired of my life, my clothes, the things I say. I’m hacking away at the surface, as at some kind of gray ice, trying to break through to what is underneath or I am dead. I can feel the surface trembling—it seems ready to give but it never does. I am uninterested in current events. How can I justify this? How can I explain it?
—  James Salter, Memorable Days: The Selected Letters of James Salter and Robert Phelps

They lay silently. She was staring 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.

—  James Salter
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A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter

For more feverish love stories with unusual narration, try these… 

The Lover by Marguerite Duras for a lyrical and intensely erotic coming of age story that tangles identity and desire.

Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill for gritty stories about city life and the various, often less than entirely savory shapes that intimacy takes.

The Folding Star by Alan Hollinghurst for a blisteringly vivid portrait of a tutor’s obsession with his young charge.

Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer for a romance born and sustained through exceedingly lovely letters between two writers.

This post was guest edited by Caroline Eisenmann. Caroline works at a literary agency in New York. You can find her on Twitter here.

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Sam Waterston, Charlotte Rampling and Robie Porter in James Salter’s lost film, “Three” (1969).

Susan Sontag introduced James Salter at a 92Y reading in 1997 with “If he can be described as a writer’s writer, then I think it’s just as true to say he’s a reader’s writer; that is, he’s a writer who particularly rewards those for whom reading is an intense pleasure and something that is a bit of an addiction. I myself put James Salter among the very few North American writers all of whose work I want to read and whose as yet unpublished books I wait for impatiently.”

Salter returns to 92Y on Monday night (Apr 29) with Richard Ford.

He liked to read with the silence and the golden color of the whiskey as his companions. He liked food, people, talk, but reading was an inexhaustible pleasure. What the joys of music were to others, words on a page were to him.
— 

James Salter, All That Is


I’ve tumbled this before, but do I need a reason to share it again? No, I do not.

The book was in her lap; she had read no further. The power to change one’s life comes from a paragraph, a lone remark. The lines that penetrate us are slender, like the flukes that live in river water and enter the bodies of swimmers. She was excited, filled with strength. The polished sentences had arrived, it seemed, like so many other things, at just the right time. How can we imagine what our lives should be without the illumination of the lives of others?
—  James Salter; Light Years