Tag Archives: James Salter

On the process of writing a book

You don’t do all the writing at your desk. You do it elsewhere, carrying the book with you. The book is your companion, you have it in your mind all the time, running through it, alert for links to it. It becomes your chief companion, in the real sense of the word. You can talk to it quietly. It becomes your sole companion. The writing may go on for ten days, as with Georges Simenon, or weeks, or months, or years. It’s the same thing for everyone. . . There should be no prohibitions to what you are allowed to think or imagine.

James Salter, Life Into Art, The Paris Review , Fall 2015

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Of a time and place

Things you have written don’t grow old with you, at least so it seems to me. It’s true that they may seemed marked by time, but there’s no such thing as being up-to-date when the time is past. They either go on outside of any date or cease to exist. Literature proceeds this way. Books mark a period or place and then gradually they become that place and time.     James Salter,  Life Into Art, The Paris Review, no 214, Fall 2015


You   could say the same of photographs, paintings, film.


Found Photo from here


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The distinction between fiction and non-fiction

The notion that anything can be invented wholly and that these invented things are classified as fiction and that other writing, presumably not made up, is called nonfiction strikes me as a very arbitrary separation of things. We know that most great novels and stories come not from things that are entirely invented, but from perfect knowledge and close observation. To say they are made up is an injustice in describing them. I sometimes say that I don’t make up anything—obviously, that’s not true. But I am usually uninterested in writers who say that everything comes out of the imagination. I would rather be in a room with someone who is telling me the story of his life, which may be exaggerated and even have lies in it, but I want to hear the true story, essentially.

Paris Review interview with James Salter

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The enchantment of the story teller

She’d gone to Vassar.

“You went to Vassar? Where is Vassar?”

“It’s in Poughkeepsie.”

“What made you pick Vassar?”he said.

“Actually, I’m supposed to be smart. Not supposed to be,” she said, “I actually am.”

She loved Vassar, she said, it was like an English park, the old brick buildings, the tall trees. They used to live as if it belonged to them, they came to class in their pyjamas. For dinner though, you had to wear white gloves and pearls. There was a girl named Beth Ann Rigsby. She wouldn’t wear them, nobody could make her do anything. They wouldn’t let her go to dinner. You must wear your white gloves and pearls they told her. So she came down in her pearls and white gloves and nothing else. Eddins was enthralled. He gazed at her.

James Salter, All That Is 

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