I didn’t know who James Salter was. Actually, I vaguely knew he was an author. I didn’t know he was a Korean War jet pilot who left the Air Force to be a writer. So I went on a Salter reading binge.
I read “Light Years”, then “A Sport and a Pastime”, and this year’s novel “All That Is.” I wanted to like them more than I did. I enjoyed “Light Years” the best. It’s about a family that falls apart through divorce. The other two books seemed more like bragging about sexual exploits and really good dinner parties. But then, Nick Paumgarten, in a recent New Yorker profile of Salter said: “Salter once told his close friend the poet and novelist William Benton that one of the functions of a writer is to create envy in the reader–envy of the life that the writer is living.” I didn’t envy him, but I could sure tell he was trying to make me do so.
I probably need to read his two memoirs, since he’s allegedly good at describing flight.