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Burning the Days: Recollection


Burning the Days: Recollection Cover

ISBN13: 9780394759487
ISBN10: 0394759486
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this brilliant book of recollection, one of America's finest writers re-creates people, places, and events spanning some fifty years, bringing to life an entire era through one man's sensibility. Scenes of love and desire, friendship, ambition, life in foreign cities and New York, are unforgettably rendered here in the unique style for which James Salter is widely admired.

Burning the Days captures a singular life, beginning with a Manhattan boyhood and then, satisfying his father's wishes, graduation from West Point, followed by service in the Air Force as a pilot. In some of the most evocative pages ever written about flying, Salter describes the exhilaration and terror of combat as a fighter pilot in the Korean War, scenes that are balanced by haunting pages of love and a young man's passion for women.

After resigning from the Air Force, Salter begins a second life, becoming a writer in the New York of the 1960s. Soon films beckon. There are vivid portraits of actors, directors, and producers--Polanski, Robert Redford, and others. Here also, more important, are writers who were influential, some by their character, like Irwin Shaw, others because of their taste and knowledge.

Ultimately Burning the Days is an illumination of what it is to be a man, and what it means to become a writer.

Only once in a long while--Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory or Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa--does a memoir of such extraordinary clarity and power appear. Unconventional in form, Burning the Days is a stunning achievement by the writer The Washington Post Book World said "inhabits the same rarefied heights as Flannery O'Connor, Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams and John Cheever" --a rare and unforgettable book.


"'Pleasure and inconsequence on one hand, immeasurable deeds on the other.' This is how, two-thirds of the way through his new memoir, Salter sums up watching a moon launch while making love to his mistress; it might also be said about his life. Salter's fiction has always been stunningly opaque, and the thematic arrangement and taut style of his 'recollection' make you look hard for the man behind the aesthetic. West Point, flight training, and dogfights yield language that is vivid and revealing of character, Salter's own and the men who lived and died in his squadron; but for Salter the screenwriter, words (and names) become a kind of currency, tickets to a closed and lavish world that swallows the middle of life. His reticence about the disintegration of his marriage is laudable but suspect, because it has the effect of quickening the artistic life around it. As he watches the astronauts, one of whom flew in his squadron in Korea, Salter writes: 'There was wreckage all around, but like the refuse piled behind restaurants I did not consider it—in front they were bowing and showing me to the table.' This, and other, exquisite cracks in the surface reveal a portrait of a man for whom flying and writing are vital, heroic, even as they suck life from ordinary things, an ultimately stirring affirmation from a man who is as good as his words." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)


Whether he is describing the icy purity of the Korean sky in the instant before it is shattered by a huge formation of MIGs, the light of Paris at dawn, or the glinting smile of a beautiful woman in a Roman cafe, Salter is an incomparable observer and storyteller. And "Burning the Days" is a dazzling meditation on time, desire, memory, and regret.

About the Author

James Salter is the author of A Sport and a Pastime (now in Modern Library), Light Years, The Hunters, Solo Faces, and Dusk and Other Stories, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1988. He lives in Colorado and Long Island.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Bob Newby, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by Bob Newby)
I came to this book, which Salter characterizes in his preface as "...the story of a life. Not the complete story beyond telling--the length would be too great, longer than Proust, not to speak of the repetition..." after reading the author's two exemplary novels of fighter pilots and flying, The Hunters, and Cassada, based on his own experience flying in the Korean War and in post-war Europe. In this book Salter gives us some of the details of the life which informed those novels, and it is a fascinating life, indeed, divided in the book about equally between his flying days and his life after he resigned his commission in the Air Force to pursue the life of writing, in Europe and America, which brought him into contact with James Jones, Irwin Shaw, Robert Redford (for whom he wrote the script of "Downhill Racer") and other luminaries of the last half century or so. Salter has earned the admiration of other writers as diverse as Joseph Heller, Susan Sontag, and Richard Ford, for prose which is impressionistic, beautiful, and elegiac. John Irving is quoted in the jacket copy thus: "No man who is even remotely honest with himself can read [this book] without envy; no woman of similar truthfulness will fail to find Salter's life deeply romantic." I would say that that is about right.
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vahldieck, June 23, 2006 (view all comments by vahldieck)
James Salter's "Burning The Days" is both an exemplary autobiography of a truly great twentieth century writer as well as an astonishing artists memoir by a virtuoso among authors. One of his particular claims to fame is an ability to see people and complex events with unvarnished clarity and then capture these with poignant, supremely well-wrought sentences that will leave a receptive reader breathless. Salter relates his youth growing up in New York City and education at established preperatory schools and, finally, West Point. He describes both the camaraderie exhilaration and the emptiness and desolation of life as an Army and Air Force Pilot during the Korean War and his transformation into a writer in Paris, France in the late Fifties and Sixties as well as work writing for cinema in Holllywood. An unusually honest, piercingly sober and often moving recollection of a worldy and cosmopolitan life lived in the myriad, intersecting worlds of the Twentieth Century.
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Product Details

Salter, James
Salter, James
Vintage Books USA
New York :
American - General
Film - Screenwriting
Authors, American
General Biography
Authors, American -- 20th century.
Salter, James
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Vintage International
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.04x5.22x.95 in. .70 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Biography » Medical
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Burning the Days: Recollection Used Trade Paper
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$12.95 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780394759487 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Whether he is describing the icy purity of the Korean sky in the instant before it is shattered by a huge formation of MIGs, the light of Paris at dawn, or the glinting smile of a beautiful woman in a Roman cafe, Salter is an incomparable observer and storyteller. And "Burning the Days" is a dazzling meditation on time, desire, memory, and regret.
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