reading, stray thoughts
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These luminous days

September_light

September light

September. It seems these luminous days will never end.
A Sport and a Pastime, James Salter

Such beautiful opening lines. The September light, the slanting light of these days that I love so much, is wonderful this year. And always pregnant with the knowledge that we are on borrowed time, that the darkness of winter is approaching.

Opening aside, after 67 pages, I’m not sure about A Sport and a Pastime. How to react to casual racism in a book first published in 1967 and set in the 1950s? By remembering that it is the first person narrator’s voice I’m reading? By remembering the mores of the day? By setting the book aside? I guess some combination of the first two, at least until the book is finished and I can form an opinion on whether the racism serves any purpose in the story. My hunch at this point would be that it doesn’t — but 50 years ago is a different age, so maybe I shouldn’t be expecting it to. Maybe, I should just accept it as ‘normal’ for its time. However, I’m going to be reading All That Is (published in 2013) more critically in this respect. Here’s Roxana Robinson on Salter:

James Salter is praised as a writer’s writer, with good reason: His work is hauntingly beautiful. Each word seems inevitable and perfect, as though the sentences were carved in marble. His voice creates an enchanted forest, and we move, entranced, through its deep shadowy glades. The spell is such that we might not notice the content. If we did, we’d pause, in confusion and dismay.
Okay. I consider myself warned against such enchantment.
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Lest this appears to have turned into a James Salter blog, I should add that I’m two-timing him: splicing A Sport and a Pastime with another slender novel, Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner. It’s making me laugh, a lot, and reminding me of Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist — never a bad thing. (And, yes, Salter queue jumped even himself: I picked up A Sport and a Pastime at the library last week & slipped it into my bag when we went away for the weekend. His books make me sneaky like that.)

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