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Chris Crowley, author of "Younger Next Year," was a friend of James Salter and wrote a moving tribute to him. Having never heard of Salter--despite his many critical accolades--I decided to get a few of his books. "A Sport and a Pastime" was supposedly Salter's personal favorite and his view of a perfect novel.
The book was disappointing to me. Salter can describe a scene and craft a sentence as well as anyone. He can certainly set a mood. But there is no real story here: Spoiled son of a critic meets attractive young French woman. He has no work or no productive life. He borrows a fancy car and and money from his family and he and the girl go off to French towns on weekends and they have a lot of sex. There's really nothing more to it.
There is no hero. There is no moral. From what I can tell, there is no point. The story is told in the third person by a friend of the male protagonist who somehow is able to relate the protagonist's sex life with the young woman. We are not sure (as we are told) if it is real or fantasy. The narrator--apparently on some vague sort of photography assignment--adds a positively creepy element that serves no apparent purpose.
I'm sure the sex in the book was sensational when it was written, but today it comes across as a crutch because of the lack of a story: Well, they've gone to dinner again, so they have to have more sex.
If this was Salter's idea of the "Great American Novel," it may explain why he never gained much of a popular following. I'm sorry to be harsh, but if I could get the time back, I simply would not bother with this one.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
I disliked this book from the start. It is not the fault of the narrator that he cannot speak French. Either you can or you can't. It is the fault of the producer for selecting a narrator who was ill-suited to the book. I learned about the book in the authors obituary, but I will not be buying others.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful