All That Is by James Salter; Collected Stories by James Salter - review by Jonathan Beckman

Jonathan Beckman

In Search of the Good Life

All That Is


Picador 289pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Collected Stories


Picador 320pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

It has been eight years since James Salter released Last Night, a collection of short stories barely 130 pages long; one has to look back to the appearance in 1975 of Light Years, his mid-career masterpiece, for an original novel (Solo Faces, his 1979 novel about mountain-climbing, started out as a screenplay for Robert Redford; and Cassada, published in 2000, was a third-person rewrite of an early autobiographical novel, The Arm of Flesh, which dealt with life in the US Air Force). Such parsimony explains in part why James Wolcott has described him as the ‘most underrated underrated writer’, though recently he has been rated highly by most relevant prize committees, including the judges of the 2012 PEN/Malamud Award and the handsomely endowed Windham–Campbell Prize.

Salter has always stood at a distance from fellow writers of his generation. Many were drafted in the Second World War – Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, James Jones, Joseph Heller – but Salter was a career soldier, educated at West Point and flying over a hundred sorties as a fighter

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter