Last Night, a short story by James Salter. It’s only 6,000 words long but it’s more filling than most contemporary novels. Critics often wonder why Salter does not have a wider audience. I don’t think I want Salter’s books on the bestseller list. I don’t want him to be endorsed by Oprah, although if justice exists his books should make him a wealthy man. Let him be an open secret among the readers who get him.
Richard Ford on Salter: “It is an article of faith among readers of fiction that James Salter writes American sentences better than anybody writing today. Good writing in the fiction category matters to us because fiction is where we readers expect writing to be the most eventful, where virtuosity within sentences meets the un-plannable energy of the imagination, harnesses it to a narrative and enacts an entirely new and exhilarating and important occurrence dedicated to the reader’s delectation and renewal.
“This is a large part of any fiction’s basic appeal – what makes it, or can make it, exciting. And surely there’s no intuition for the world’s details and for its unobvious emotional business, no glint in the jeweller’s eye for our frail human kind as keen as James Salter’s, and no one who forges great notice and verbal imagination as beautifully, lavishly, surprisingly, sometimes as heartlessly, but always excitingly into sentences.”