Sunday, April 07, 2013

James Salter: A Brief Note

I love the research access that the Internet provides. At the time when Dave and I found an elegant copy of James Salter's book FORGOTTEN KINGS: THE DAYS OF IRWIN SHAW, we were already experts in mysteries and gaining rapidly in poetry -- but literary reflections like this one were not our passion (and still we don't often "go there"). We purchased the book and added it to our Kingdom Books shelves for the sake of its physical beauty. It's a gem, and was created at the noted Stinehour Press to be issued by the Bookman Press.

This morning, however, I noticed a review by John Freeman in the Boston Globe, of Salter's newest novel, All That Is. So before reading the book, I pulled out our Salter item and enjoyed it again, then skipped through several archived pieces on Salter, found on the 'Net. I was particularly intrigued to discover that he'd been born Horowitz, in New Jersey, and had a strong military career before the success of his first novel took him away from the U.S. Air Force.

Then, at last, I settled into Freeman's review of the new Salter novel, and found it a mix of thumbs up and down, but always rich: There's Freeman's own evocative writing (he begins the review with "Desire is one of memory's most potent accelerants"), and a comment on Salter's writing that intrigued me: "No one in American letters moves a story along through dialogue as naturally as he does," Freeman comments. "One moment we're in Bowman's head, the next in his lover's, and at the start of new chapters we're briefly in the mind of someone entirely new."

That's a skill that I want to witness and explore, so I'll be watching for a Salter novel as we begin our spring purchasing binge (it is such fun to be married to Dave, as we share enjoyment of acquisition, reading, reviewing -- each in our way -- and introducing readers to more good books).  And I hope that FORGOTTEN KINGS soon reaches the shelf of the person who is passionate about literary reflections, and who's developing a Salter collection to enjoy.

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