All That Is Paperback – 19 Jun 2014
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'A beautiful novel, with sufficient love, heartbreak, vengeance, identity confusion, longing, and euphoria of language to have satisfied Shakespeare.' John Irving
'The best novel I’ve read in years. All That Is will be treasured by its readers. Salter’s vivid, lucid prose does exquisite justice to his subject―the relentless struggle to make good on our own humanity. Once again he has delivered to us a novel of the highest artistry.' Tim O’Brien
Effortlessly beautiful, funny, sexy and wise - the kind of novel that makes you want to delete your own meagre work-in-progress and start over. Is there a How to Write Like Salter Handbook? If so, that's what I want for Christmas, please. (Julie Myerson, Books of the Year Observer)
Not in my (admittedly failing) memory have I read a novel that, at its crucialest moment, made me just stand straight up out of my chair and have to walk around the room for several minutes. Laid into the customary Salterish verbal exquisiteness and vivid intelligence is such remarkable audacity and dark-hued verve about us poor humans. It's a great novel. (Richard Ford, Books of the Year Guardian)
Masculine, clear-cut, ravishingly sensual (Books of the Year Sunday Telegraph)
I loved James Salter's beguiling, brilliant, worldly, sexy novel All That Is (Simon Sebag Montefiore, Books of the Year Evening Standard)
'This masterpiece is a smooth, absorbing narrative studded with bright particulars. If God is in the details, this book is divine.' Edmund White
'Enthralling . . . A vividly imagined and beautifully written evocation of a postwar world.' John Banville
'A consistently elegant and enjoyable novel, full of verve and wisdom.' Julian Barnes
'Richard Ford calls him 'the Master', Bellow was an admirer, Roth, too . . . Salter's first novel in more than 30 years . . . is set in the golden years of post-war America and is studded with magnificent portraits of minor characters, their whole essences captured, somehow, in a gesture and two lines of dialogue.' Daily Telegraph
'All That Is, which tells the story of a navy veteran and literary publisher, Philip Bowman , over a period of some 40 years, has a grandeur that is all its own. Its handling of time, its elliptical wisdom, and its occasional chest-tightening cruelties are masterful; every paragraph is quietly, carefully good. On the page, moreover, anyone can be young. It is an inordinately vigorous novel. So much feeling. So much sex.' Observer
'If any living writer has earned the right to name a novel All That Is, it is James Salter. His latest novel . . . tells the story of Philip Bowman, a Harvard-educated US Navy veteran who becomes a New York book editor durign the great flowering of American letters in the 1950s and 1960s . . . Salter's breathlessly simple prose is often exquisite. His episodic structure results in a number of memorable set-pieces. The trip Bowman and Enid take to Spain in the early days of their affair proves as richly sensual as anything Hemingway wrote.' Sunday Times
'In telling this drama, Salter gives us joy, eroticism, disgust, beauty, nostalgia, outrage, highbrow discussion and lowbrow humour. There are moments of crushing tragedy. . . followed later by lines of wry comedy . . . Throughout, the story is populated with rich and living characters who stand at the centre of our gaze . . . What you read stays with you and invites you back in . . . Salter has produced a novel that will last longer than the distractions that might keep us from it.' The Times
Salter's first novel in more than 30 years, which follows the loves and losses of a World War II veteran, is an ambitious departure from his previous work and, at a stroke, demolishes any talk of twilight. (100 Notable Books of 2013 New York Times)
The first Salter novel for more than 30 years is a rare treat for fans of his distinctive prose. All That Is follows Philip Bowman from a Second World War battle fleet into the publishing worlds of New York and London and the beds of many women. The main attraction is not the narrative, though - it's the beauty of Salter's words. (Books of the Year Financial Times)
‘Salter is the contemporary writer most admired and envied by other writers . . . he can, when he wants, break your heart with a sentence’ Michael Dirda, Washington Post
‘James Salter can suggest in a single sentence an individual’s entire history’ Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
‘There is scarcely a writer alive who could not learn from his passion and precision of language’ Peter Matthiessen
‘Salter is a writer who particularly rewards those for whom reading is an intense pleasure. He is among the very few North American writers all of whose work I want to read, whose as yet unpublished books I wait for impatiently.’ Susan Sontag
'A sweeping, precise, heartfelt and wondrous tale of American life, a book that somehow manages to deal with everyday existence, yet elevate that familiar tale to something deep and profound . . . here Salter is brilliant at evoking the mundane buzz and thrum of existence, and he does so in terse, clipped prose that somehow courses with a life all its own.' Big Issue
'Salter's descriptions of places are second to none.' Daily Express
'In James Salter's terrific new novel . . . we've followed him unhurriedly through several decades of love affairs, friendships and foreign travels - all of them rendered with astonishing concision and jolting vividness.' Daily Mail
'In All That Is, the simplest lines hit the hardest . . . Salter describes with perfect clarity the brutal new awareness that comes of heartbreak..' Sunday Herald
'American literary favourite Salter, who has been credited as an influence by writers such as Joyce Carol Oates releases his first novel since 1979 . . . It's official: no one writes about war, love and sex like he does. Unmissable.' Easy Living
'All That Is is the story of a life . . . it is a river that meanders, that surges ahead and then is becalmed. It has many tributaries; one of the great pleasures of Salter is the way he dives into the lives of minor characters, spending a few paragraphs on someone who wondered into the action for a moment, telling you everything you ever need to know about them, then leaving them be. And in all that spare, elegant, shimmering prose, those sentences long and short that seem to expand and compress time itself.' Esquire
'All That Is is the equal of such great novels as A Sport and a Pastime, Light Years and his memoir, Burning the Days. That is to say, it is delectable . . . Salter switches freely between foreground and background, incisive generalisation and precise detail, intense moments of lived experience and great swathes of time passing unremarked. A story that, treated more conventionally, could have been so much longer and less affecting is refracted here into points of light, moments of intense feeling, the memories that constitute us. The way Salter writes implies an attitude to life, even down to the level of the single sentence. He is that good.' Evening Standard
'Salter has produced a strange masterpiece.' Independent i
'All That Is gobbles the whole arc of a man's lifetime as its subject . . . The everyday may be one of the hardest things to write about - the quotidian doings, including the outright tedium, of ordinary life . . . But to pull it off . . . to indelibly record the trivial and the portentous with the same ravenous affection, thereby persuading us that there may be no difference between the two when assaying the worth of a life or divining its mystery - that is a crowning achievement and it's Mr. Salter's to claim.' International Herald Tribune
'He makes every word count.' Literary Review
'Part of the Roth/Updike/Bellow generation of Great American Novelists, James Salter deserves a place among them: All That Is should finally gain him membership. This haunting novel tells the story of Philip Bowman, an officer in the Pacific War who returns to America and a career as a publisher. At 87, Salter has never written better.' Mail on Sunday
'All That Is has few equals . . . Rhapsodic and marvelling, with a treasurable lack of cynicism and a 1950s-ish directness, Salter's style is sensory without being exactly lyrical . . . Although he likes to linger over impressions, he is rarely wasteful.' New Statesman
We join Philip Bowman in his young navy days off Okinawa, but these exploits last only a chapter before he returns home to concentrate on the two aspects of his life that dominate All That Is – his career as a book editor in New York, and his relationships with women. There is one marriage and several affairs, Salter weaving together the sensual and the emotional in this thread that winds its way through Bowman’s life to the point we leave him, in his mid 50s. It is an easy novel to enjoy thanks to Salter’s mastery of language and an attention to detail that brings even minor characters to life.' Sunday Mercury
'Salter is very good at showing the inconsequentiality of so much that happens . . . Salter is good on the selfishness and carelessness of the rich - there's an echo of Scott Fitzgerald here - and the neediness of the poor . . . Salter shows us
how little of what we once thought mattered greatly comes eventually not to matter at all. This is quite comforting and at the same time exhilarating. One of the many attractive things about this novel is that it deals in pleasures.' Scotsman
'Salter's genius has been to invoke the ancient muses to chant about modern existence, making the ordinary revelatory of heroism, tragedy and mystery in a secular world . . . All That Is suggests a testament both new and old. It conforms to his other fiction in that it depicts quotidian lives positioned against the background of archaic values, mysterious forces and transcendent possibilities.' Times Literary Supplement
Salter at his bitter-sweet best (Books of the Year New Statesman)
All That Is by James Salter is, no question, the best novel I have read this year - by a lot. Yes, yes, of course ... the sentences. But then ... the sentences. As well as the large historical vision from the 1950s to now; New York and Paris deliciously evoked; wonderful louts of both the male and female varieties; some extremely bad behaviour going nicely unpunished. And continuous authorial decisions about just what happens next that'll absolutely drop your jaw in admiration. (Richard Ford, Books of the Year Financial Times)
The most brilliant novel I have read in years. Surgically precise, yet embracing vast landscapes of elusive love, death and sex, it distils whole lives into a single page. I felt more alive, more fully myself, when I finished it. (Caroline Daniel, The FT's Summer Books 2015 Financial Times)
A major new novel from the universally acclaimed master and PEN/Faulkner winner James Salter. A sweeping, seductive love story set in the years after World War II.See all Product description
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All That Is has something of the shaggy dog about it: Salter is on the way somewhere, but its the caveats, the sidelines, that make up the bulk of the tale. Which is both the novel's strength and weakness: Salter's attention to the details of lives gone by is gorgeous, but all too often this work seems directionless. I've loved Martin Amis' prose, and his 'story as excuse for observations' is fine with me; but too often I got the feeling Salter lacked a driving plot for this. Sure, in context, the book's somewhat ethereal title makes sense: this is a book about life and... all that is. But, in order to engage and stay engaged, I needed some kind of (for want of a better word) reason to stick around.
I read somewhere that this work was written in bursts over a long period of time - the author writing bits, then leaving it for stretches... and, I fear, it shows. Likewise, I find the author's slavish rejection of semi-colons frustrating. I know it's a stylistic thing and, sometimes it works for Salter - but too many sentences are rendered confusing by what is effectively a lack of signposting.
Very disappointed with this book. .just goes to show that I should not be influenced by recommendations from journalists, etc. What a boring, self satisfied, selfish, sex obsessed man. What an uninteresting life he led…picking up women…imagining that he was happy…were they? He didn’t bother to find out. What was the purpose of his odd life…to try to impress us with the publishers he knew…Did he really want to be a writer? I think not. Is that what it is like in American society in a certain strata of? Horrible and shallow. Characters very unpleasant most of the time…Sometimes the writing was very good…I liked his description of 40s London interesting and felt it was a true depiction. There hardly one redeeming character…oh perhaps poor old Eddins with Dena and her son. When Bowman took his ‘step daughter’ to Paris…oh and not to forget the hash incident….he behaved abominably…irresponsibly and immorally ….in my humble opinion. What a perfectly horrible human being….Could he really have left her like that…what a b…….. It was the writing of a tired old man…Not sure I would ever want to read another of his novels. Other people have written much better ‘depictions of a life’, i.e….John Updike for instance and William Boyd…he does it really well….
Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer
The story charts the live and loves of the central character Phillip Bowman the period post WW2. He has a lot of dinners, attends various literary events, has a lot of sex [but can't find real lurrrvvveee] and that, really, is about it.
The awful sex scenes have already been nicely detailed by another reviewer I see, so won't dwell on that, but all in all quite frankly, this is just in places very badly written and well...boring. I know I am hard these days on literary novels- it seems as if when that genre tag is applied, everyone must bow down and accept bad fiction as 'Art' and critical facilities must be suspended- but too many literary establishment names are getting away with shoddy work these days, and unfortunately this book strays too often into that territory. No substance, no real comment on the world beyond the [in the end terminally boring] self-absorption of Bowman, and I fear another author trading on his name and past glories. If you are new to Salter try his earlier work, it's much more rewarding.
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