Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Sport and a Pastime

Why do I think you should read A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter?
Because it is a picture perfect novel about young love, or the lack thereof.
You are left to decide which is which, really.
Two people meet up in Paris [circa 1960's]… it may be a bit dated, for sure, but the happenings are not. Things are still very much the same. The difference is they did not meet up through Facebook, I guess.
Two young people get together, and sex takes precedence. She is eighteen, he is… a bit older. I forget now, how older he is, but not all that much. The sex is tumultuous, and all-consuming -- and this was written at a time [1967] when such things were not really… written about. Or if they were written about, they were done badly.
This one is written goodly. [Unlike that very sentence about it].
Here is what makes the novel so unique, though -- in my opinion:
It is told in first-person narration from someone who is posing as omniscient.
What he is writing about, he could not possibly KNOW.
And in such sparing prose. Never have I seen so many four and five-word sentences. It makes Hemingway seem verbose.
Salter has given us, through a thoroughly unreliable narrator, a fascinating glimpse of what goes on in the lives of young people infatuated with each other's bodies and souls… whether what actually took place in these pages did or not is not the point. The point is, whether it did or not -- it does.
Yesterday, today, and always.
I was riveted to this book. You can read it in a sitting, almost.
But for parts of it, you may even want to be lying down. Or maybe pacing about. It is ribald and saucy. 

A perfect mix of elation, euphoria, irresponsible hedonism, and sadness. Bittersweet sweetness. 

A sense of the fleeting value of time and experience permeates A Sport and a Pastime
It is worth more than a fleeting look.

1 comment:

Rebecca H. said...

I'd like to read Salter at some point, and I have this book on my shelves. Thanks for the introduction to it!