Friday, April 12, 2013

James Salter - All That Is

Well, shoot.  I am only three chapters in, and already I am ready to declare that, line for line, All That Is contains the finest writing by an American novelist in many years.  Consider, for example, the book's opening:
All night in darkness the water sped past.
In tier on tier of iron bunks below deck, silent, six deep, lay hundreds of men, many faceup with their eyes still open though it was near morning.  The lights were dimmed, the engines throbbing endlessly, the ventilators pulling in damp air, fifteen hundred men with their packs and weapons heavy enough to take them straight to the bottom, like an anvil dropped in the sea, part of a vast army sailing twoards Okinawa, the great island that was just to the south of Japan.
But there is more to a great novel than great writing.  Can Salter make the grade in this, his first novel since 1979? 

I'm optimistic.

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