It’s disconcerting to be told that your favorite writer is a male chauvinist who embodies retrograde sexual politics, treats women poorly and describes them as meals.
It makes us think: Are we a female male chauvinist? Are our sexual politics retrograde? This is a very useful exercise. We acknowledge that we expect men to try and take charge. Try is the operative term. (Our friend asked an interesting question recently: When was the last time you obeyed a man?)
When we read Salter, we see male characters who are products of their times, imperfect beings made compelling by their flaws. Should we expect fictional creations to be fair and respectful at all times, to think righteously and stay within the bounds of political correctness? Is it Salter’s or any writer’s obligation to meet contemporary standards of how to live? We regard fiction as an alternate universe where characters are free to be exactly what they are. It would be a tragedy to police it.