Poetry in prose and technically brilliant. Never heard of James Salter before picking up this book. Perhaps because the American tradition is to prefer transparent plain text and books which are all plot and character (rather than beautiful writing - surely at least as important!), Salter just doesn't get that much press.
In any case, the writing is astonishing. Shocking to start with - the briefest of sentences like dabs of paint, rhythmic: "We dash the black river, its flats smooth as stone. Not a ship, not a dinghy, not one cry of white. The water lies broken, cracked from the wind."
And amazingly, the beauty of the prose doesn't get in the way of the meaning, the plot and the characters. In describing the main female character, Nedra, Salter (rarely and interestingly) begins speaking as the author in first person: "Before her were scissors, paper-thin boxes of cheese, French knives. On her shoulders there was perfume. I am going to describe her life from the inside outward, from its core, the house as well, rooms in the morning sunlight...Salter continues with one of the longest sentences of the book in this direct address.