All That Is

Editorial reviews

All That Is

James Salter’s prose is outstandingly beautiful and luminous.

Although Salter has never had the fame of, say, Updike or Cheever, he is their equal, at least.

He's a little too loftily impassive, finally, and perhaps a little too interested in creating crystalline verbal beauty, to compel the word "great", at least without strong reservations. But he is amazingly good.

If writers often see things in a different way, their perceptive tendencies being privy to collecting more detail than there's room to store, Salter shows that the rendering of these details, when stitched with painstaking detail, are a monument for times worth reflecting upon.

With its chilly marble women, simultaneously worshiped and dismissed, All That Is recalls an era of sexual politics that I would prefer not to relive, even in the pages of a book.

If there is fidelity in Salter’s novels, it is a fidelity to the idea of being true to desire and beauty. This is a fidelity maintained over a lifetime of remarkably beautiful writing.

The novel is similar in design and tone to what Salter has always offered: a plaintive, impressionistic look at how we live in time, how little we ever understand about the amorphous shape of our own lives.

The sentences, the scenes, fleeting visions, the life, the life!