“There’s the fact that people are being killed,” Salter said. “And there was a competition always going on, a sifting out, a sorting out. There was working with all this tremendously powerful machinery. And then, of course, there was also the fact that you were the one on the horse. Everyone was in business to support you–all the ground crews, all the supply people, everybody. That gave you a feeling, I would say, of over-importance, probably. But you wore that. You had to wear it.” He has called his time as a pilot–his twenties, basically–the heart of his life. “As a writer, you aren’t anybody until you become somebody. As a pilot, you’re nobility from the very beginning. It’s very hard to suddenly become just somebody on a bus.”
“It was worse than divorce, emotionally,” Salter told me.
–Nick Paumgarten on James Salter