A Sport and a Pastime

  • by James Salter
  • Narrated by Jeff Woodman
  • 6 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


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.
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- John "I'm a lawyer and mediator. I represent businesses in disputes with their insurers and in other complex litigation. I also assist machinery companies and manufacturers (primarily international) with equipment sales, non-disclosure agreements, and business issues. I also mediate commercial disputes."

Not well suited to listening

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.
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- Haven

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-20-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios