James Salter

    If James Salter has received glowing reviews throughout his brilliant career, then his notice in Friday’s New York Times can only be called a white-hot Supernova of praise. Here’s how Malcolm Jones begins his review of Salter’s new novel:

    “It’s been almost 35 years since the publication of James Salter’s previous novel, “Solo Faces.” In the meantime, he’s written two volumes of stories and one of poetry, a memoir, a collection of travel essays and, with his wife, Kay Eldredge Salter, a book about food. He has not been idle. Still, any or all of those books, excellent as they are, might suggest a career in twilight, with grand gestures and major lifts all in the rearview mirror. And why not? Salter is 87, with a reputation so secure he has nothing left to prove. If there were a Mount Rushmore for writers, he’d be there already. He could have published nothing, and no one would have thought less of him.

    “Apparently no one told Salter, who, with the publication of “All That Is,” an ambitious departure from his previous work, has demolished any talk of twilight with a single stroke. Moreover, this novel casts the last four decades in a completely new light, not coda but overture. The brilliantly compressed stories in which life is lit by lightning flash, the humane memoir that generously exalts, more than anything, the lineaments of ordinary existence — it’s all here, subsumed and assimilated in the service of a work that manages to be both recognizable (no one but Salter could have written it) and yet strikingly original, vigorous proof that this literary lion is still very much on the prowl.”

    James Salter’s Top Ten List

    1. The Bible.

    2. Aesop’s Fables (c. sixth century b.c.e.).

    3. The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights (c. 1450)

    4. The legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

    5. Henry IV, Parts I and II by William Shakespeare (1596–98).

    6. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857).

    7. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842).

    8. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877).

    9. The stories of Isaac Babel (1894–1940).

    10. Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1812–14). 


    New List

    Francine Prose

    1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877).
    2. The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal (1839). (See below.)
    3. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (1913–27).
    4. The stories of Anton Chekhov (1860–1904).
    5. The stories of John Cheever (1912–82).
    6. The stories of Mavis Gallant (1922– ).
    7. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851).
    8. Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871–72).
    9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967).


    Classic List

    Amy Bloom


    1. The Deptford trilogy by Robertson Davies (1983).
    2.Persuasion by Jane Austen (1817).
    3. His Dark Materialsby Philip Pullman (1995–2000).
    4.The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (1995).
    5.The Known World by Edward P. Jones (2003).
    6. The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro (1978).
    7. The Plot Against Americaby Philip Roth.
    8. The Hours by Michael Cunningham (1998).
    9. Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier (1951).
    10. Larry’s Party by Carol Shields (1997).


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