zac, May 17, 2013 (view all comments by zac)
My own twenty-first century prejudices were built on the groundwork of a feminism that demands compelling, fully formed female characters. If I set that aside, by the conclusion of the novel it is easy to recognize that a protagonist need not inform a novel as a whole. Empathy does not necessarily a good book make, and when Bowman remarks that “all powerful women cause anxiety” by the end of the novel, it’s clear that this is, in its own way, a period piece, a story of a man who moves from one misogynistic age to one that is slightly less so. And while Bowman may not have recognized the complexities of the women in his life entirely ��" the women who mark the chapters of his life and his own personal development in ways he may not even realize ��" Salter has. This novel may not have been written for the type of reader who found much of Hemingway entirely unpalatable, still it is easy to recognize Salter’s talent, and All That Is as a novel worth reading.
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Knopf Publishing Group -
by Publishers Weekly,
“Achingly real...the PEN/Faulkner Award-winner’s first full-length novel in more than three decades spans forty years and follows the life, career, and loves of book editor Philip Bowman. After serving in the Pacific during WWII, Bowman stumbles into publishing at a time when small houses reigned. During extravagant literary parties and travels through Europe, he shares his thoughts on authors both real and imagined. And yet his career is merely a vehicle for his loves and losses, connections made and missed. The women in his life are always inexplicable to him. But Salter renders the first blushes of Bowman’s loves exquisitely — their giddiness, occasional illicitness, eroticism — and his bewilderment after the relationships fail....Salter punctuates his elegant prose with sharp, erotic punches.”
by Tim O’Brien,
“The best novel I’ve read in years. All That Is will be treasured by its readers. Salter’s vivid, lucid prose does exquisite justice to his subject — the relentless struggle to make good on our own humanity. Once again he has delivered to us a novel of the highest artistry.”
by Julian Barnes,
“A consistently elegant and enjoyable novel, full of verve and wisdom.”
by John Banville,
“Enthralling....A vividly imagined and beautifully written evocation of a postwar world.”
by John Irving,
“A beautiful novel, with sufficient love, heartbreak, vengeance, identity confusion, longing, and euphoria of language to have satisfied Shakespeare.”
by Edmund White,
“This masterpiece is a smooth, absorbing narrative studded with bright particulars. If God is in the details, this book is divine.”
An extraordinary literary event, a major new novel by the PEN/Faulkner winner and acclaimed master: a sweeping, seductive, deeply moving story set in the years after World War II.
From his experiences as a young naval officer in battles off Okinawa, Philip Bowman returns to America and finds a position as a book editor. It is a time when publishing is still largely a private affair — a scattered family of small houses here and in Europe — a time of gatherings in fabled apartments and conversations that continue long into the night. In this world of dinners, deals, and literary careers, Bowman finds that he fits in perfectly. But despite his success, what eludes him is love. His first marriage goes bad, another fails to happen, and finally he meets a woman who enthralls him — before setting him on a course he could never have imagined for himself.
Romantic and haunting, All That Is explores a life unfolding in a world on the brink of change. It is a dazzling, sometimes devastating labyrinth of love and ambition, a fiercely intimate account of the great shocks and grand pleasures of being alive.
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