Synopses & Reviews
A beautiful, lyrical tale of an ill-fated love affair set against the backdrop of a myriad of small French towns, this stunning novel is observed through the eyes and imagination of a narrator who, in the story of Dean and Anne-Marie's relationship, captures some essential aspect of what it means to be truly alive.
When we first meet Dean, a handsome Yale dropout possessed of great charm and a certain confident aloofness, he seems a man for whom life is easy and effortless. During what is intended to be a brief holiday in France, Dean pursues a passionate affair with Anne-Marie, an alluring, beautiful young shopgirl who is wise beyond her years and experience. Driving across the countryside in his elegant, somewhat dilapidated Delage, they stop at picturesque hotels and engage in romantic trysts that build in intimacy and ardor. Issues of class prove a stumbling block for Dean, however, and as Anne-Marie begins to shed her doubts about him, he vacillates between envisioning a comfortable life with Anne-Marie and wanting to escape from her suffocating proximity. The narrator keenly and acutely observes and imagines the lovers' public sojourns and private embraces, interpreting both his own voyeurism and their affair as criminal acts.
In A Sport and a Pastime, Salter has created a perfect gem of a book, at once an erotic masterpiece and a haunting, transcendent examination of humanity and sexual desire.
"Salter inhabits the same rarefied heights as Flannery O'Connor, Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams, and John Cheever." The Washington Post Book World
"A feverishly compressed, exquisitely controlled story." Los Angeles Times
"A tour de force of erotic realism, a romantic cliff-hanger; an opaline vision of Americans in France....A Sport and a Pastime succeeds as art must. It tells us about ourselves." The New York Times Book Review
"Salter particularly rewards those for whom reading is an intense pleasure." Susan Sontag
A Sport and a Pastime
is an astonishing performance, the classic novel from a remarkable writer whose sentences bristle with a singular passion. Salter chronicles a love affair between a young shopgirl and an American college dropout against the backdrop of provincial France. The narrator's cool distillation of events-real or imagined-makes the book both lyrical and tightly, dangerously pitched.
"As nearly perfect as any American fiction I know," is how Reynolds Price (The New York Times
) described this classic that has been a favorite of readers, both here and in Europe, for almost forty years. Set in provincial France in the 1960s, it is the intensely carnal story--part shocking reality, part feverish dream --of a love affair between a footloose Yale dropout and a young French girl. There is the seen and the unseen--and pages that burn with a rare intensity.
About the Author
James Salter was born in New Jersey in 1926 and is the author of The Hunters, The Arm of Flesh, Solo Faces, Light Years, Dusk and Other Stories (winner of the 1989 PEN/Faulkner Award), and a memoir, Burning the Days. He lives in Aspen, Colorado, and Long Island, New York.