Thursday, June 30, 2005

James Salter, A Sport and a Pastime, 1967.

I came across an interview with Salter in Salon the other day, and it prompted me to pick up A Sport and a Pastime. I'm not sure what it was in the interview that intrigued me, but I thought that I'd take a look at this novel (and at three short stories by Isaac Babel that Salter recommends in the interview; they're up next in my to-read list).

Nor am I sure what to make of this novel. It's intriguing: the story of an affair, as recollected by a man who dreams after the male of the partnership. It floats from one experience of eating to another of sex to a drive in the country. In sparse, economical prose, Salter describes a relationship as confused as any I've ever seen, in which the principals use one another, love one another after the fashion of each, and generally don't know how to be nice to the other person.

It's a beautifully written book. What I found most interesting about it was the blurring of the narration, and the desire of the narrator both for Dean and to be Dean, as the narrator reconstructs the events of the book. It's quite a subtle bit of writing, and I'm glad that the Salter interview caught my attention and brought me to this novel.