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June 20, 2015 1:15 PM   Subscribe

James Salter, a ‘Writer’s Writer’ Short on Sales but Long on Acclaim, Dies at 90 [New York Times]
James Salter, whose intimately detailed novels and short stories kept a small but devoted audience in his thrall for more than half a century, died on Friday in Sag Harbor, N.Y. He was 90. His wife, Kay Eldredge, confirmed his death, saying he had been at a physical therapy session. He lived in Bridgehampton, N.Y. Mr. Salter wrote slowly, exactingly and, by almost every critic’s estimation, beautifully. Michael Dirda once observed in The Washington Post that “he can, when he wants, break your heart with a sentence.”
Previously. Previously.
posted by Fizz (13 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Fizz at 1:15 PM on June 20, 2015

A sport and a pastime is one of maybe four or five books written in the 20th century where the fucking matches the writing. usually well written books are terrible at describing fucking, and usally books who are great at describing fucking fail at mechanics. It manages to be both. (the others usually have a measure of fantasy or historicism or excess--Jong's Fanny, Nicholson Baker's Fermata, Delaney's late porn, The Story of O--Slater's work is profoundly realist, and is not raw at the same time)
posted by PinkMoose at 1:52 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by Iridic at 2:38 PM on June 20, 2015

posted by Cash4Lead at 3:17 PM on June 20, 2015

One of my favorites of the New Yorker fiction podcasts:

Thomas McGuane reads James Salter's short story Last Night.
posted by marsha56 at 4:59 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

The "writer's writer" label is a blessing and a curse. Salter himself got a little tired of his reputation for being the master of the sentence. That does sound like a somewhat reductionist compliment, I guess. But he was a great writer, so: (.)
posted by kozad at 5:44 PM on June 20, 2015

Salter is one of those writers who I read and am incredibly jazzed to go write something, anything.

About 10 minutes later I'd realize I was not Salter, nor would (or will) I ever be.

posted by maxwelton at 7:31 PM on June 20, 2015

. I read Solo Faces just last year; an enjoyable book, anachronistic in the best way - its refusal to submit to modish trends in fiction at the time (79) gave it a more enduring and timeless quality. It held up well.
posted by smoke at 9:17 PM on June 20, 2015

Oh no.
posted by Paris Elk at 2:50 AM on June 21, 2015

I loved Solo Faces; as a meditation on obsession, sport and masculinity it more than matched Hemingway at his best. Read it on a hike over the New River Gorge then left it for a cute rock-climbing waiter at the local cafe. I bet he liked it as much as I did.

Salter really is great - one of the classic American 20th century male writers, far above the Updikes and Roths and such.
posted by mediareport at 5:44 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

RIP, beautiful writer.
posted by mediareport at 5:46 AM on June 21, 2015

I've not heard of him before but it turns out I have a short story collection called the Granta Book of the American Short Story edited by Richard Ford which has Salter's "American Express".
I just read it. It's got a stunning closing sentence.

"He was part of that great unchanging order of those who live by wages, whose world is unlit and who do not realize what is above."
posted by storybored at 10:57 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had never heard of him before this thread... I started reading Solo Faces this morning and the writing is phenomenal, just so so good.

posted by Horselover Fat at 6:37 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

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