All That Is
All That Is explores a life unfolding in a world on the brink of change. The life is that of Philip Bowman and we see his formative experiences as a young naval officer in battles off Okinawa, his post-war career as a book editor in New York, his trips to the great European cities – for publishing parties in London, romantic holidays in Paris.
But despite his success, what eludes him is love. His first marriage goes bad, another fails to happen, finally he meets a woman who enthrals him before setting him on a course he could never imagine for himself.
James Salter’s dazzling, seductive and haunting novel offers a fiercely intimate account of the great shocks and grand pleasures of being alive.
The most brilliant novel I have read in years. Surgically precise, yet embracing vast landscapes of elusive love, death and sex, it distils whole lives into a single page. I felt more alive, more fully myself, when I finished it. -- Caroline Daniel, The FT's Summer Books 2015 * Financial Times * All That Is by James Salter is, no question, the best novel I have read this year - by a lot. Yes, yes, of course ... the sentences. But then ... the sentences. As well as the large historical vision from the 1950s to now; New York and Paris deliciously evoked; wonderful louts of both the male and female varieties; some extremely bad behaviour going nicely unpunished. And continuous authorial decisions about just what happens next that'll absolutely drop your jaw in admiration. -- Richard Ford, Books of the Year * Financial Times * Salter at his bitter-sweet best -- Books of the Year * New Statesman * 'Salter's genius has been to invoke the ancient muses to chant about modern existence, making the ordinary revelatory of heroism, tragedy and mystery in a secular world . . . All That Is suggests a testament both new and old. It conforms to his other fiction in that it depicts quotidian lives positioned against the background of archaic values, mysterious forces and transcendent possibilities.' Times Literary Supplement 'Salter is very good at showing the inconsequentiality of so much that happens . . . Salter is good on the selfishness and carelessness of the rich - there's an echo of Scott Fitzgerald here - and the neediness of the poor . . . Salter shows us how little of what we once thought mattered greatly comes eventually not to matter at all. This is quite comforting and at the same time exhilarating. One of the many attractive things about this novel is that it deals in pleasures.' Scotsman We join Philip Bowman in his young navy days off Okinawa, but these exploits last only a chapter before he returns home to concentrate on the two aspects of his life that dominate All That Is - his career as a book editor in New York, and his relationships with women. There is one marriage and several affairs, Salter weaving together the sensual and the emotional in this thread that winds its way through Bowman's life to the point we leave him, in his mid 50s. It is an easy novel to enjoy thanks to Salter's mastery of language and an attention to detail that brings even minor characters to life.' Sunday Mercury 'All That Is has few equals . . . Rhapsodic and marvelling, with a treasurable lack of cynicism and a 1950s-ish directness, Salter's style is sensory without being exactly lyrical . . . Although he likes to linger over impressions, he is rarely wasteful.' New Statesman 'Part of the Roth/Updike/Bellow generation of Great American Novelists, James Salter deserves a place among them: All That Is should finally gain him membership. This haunting novel tells the story of Philip Bowman, an officer in the Pacific War who returns to America and a career as a publisher. At 87, Salter has never written better.' Mail on Sunday 'He makes every word count.' Literary Review 'All That Is gobbles the whole arc of a man's lifetime as its subject . . . The everyday may be one of the hardest things to write about - the quotidian doings, including the outright tedium, of ordinary life . . . But to pull it off . . . to indelibly record the trivial and the portentous with the same ravenous affection, thereby persuading us that there may be no difference between the two when assaying the worth of a life or divining its mystery - that is a crowning achievement and it's Mr. Salter's to claim.' International Herald Tribune 'Salter has produced a strange masterpiece.' Independent i 'All That Is is the equal of such great novels as A Sport and a Pastime, Light Years and his memoir, Burning the Days. That is to say, it is delectable . . . Salter switches freely between foreground and background, incisive generalisation and precise detail, intense moments of lived experience and great swathes of time passing unremarked. A story that, treated more conventionally, could have been so much longer and less affecting is refracted here into points of light, moments of intense feeling, the memories that constitute us. The way Salter writes implies an attitude to life, even down to the level of the single sentence. He is that good.' Evening Standard 'All That Is is the story of a life . . . it is a river that meanders, that surges ahead and then is becalmed. It has many tributaries; one of the great pleasures of Salter is the way he dives into the lives of minor characters, spending a few paragraphs on someone who wondered into the action for a moment, telling you everything you ever need to know about them, then leaving them be. And in all that spare, elegant, shimmering prose, those sentences long and short that seem to expand and compress time itself.' Esquire 'American literary favourite Salter, who has been credited as an influence by writers such as Joyce Carol Oates releases his first novel since 1979 . . . It's official: no one writes about war, love and sex like he does. Unmissable.' Easy Living 'In All That Is, the simplest lines hit the hardest . . . Salter describes with perfect clarity the brutal new awareness that comes of heartbreak..' Sunday Herald 'In James Salter's terrific new novel . . . we've followed him unhurriedly through several decades of love affairs, friendships and foreign travels - all of them rendered with astonishing concision and jolting vividness.' Daily Mail 'Salter's descriptions of places are second to none.' Daily Express 'A sweeping, precise, heartfelt and wondrous tale of American life, a book that somehow manages to deal with everyday existence, yet elevate that familiar tale to something deep and profound . . . here Salter is brilliant at evoking the mundane buzz and thrum of existence, and he does so in terse, clipped prose that somehow courses with a life all its own.' Big Issue `Salter is a writer who particularly rewards those for whom reading is an intense pleasure. He is among the very few North American writers all of whose work I want to read, whose as yet unpublished books I wait for impatiently.' Susan Sontag `There is scarcely a writer alive who could not learn from his passion and precision of language' Peter Matthiessen `James Salter can suggest in a single sentence an individual's entire history' Michiko Kakutani, New York Times `Salter is the contemporary writer most admired and envied by other writers . . . he can, when he wants, break your heart with a sentence' Michael Dirda, Washington Post The first Salter novel for more than 30 years is a rare treat for fans of his distinctive prose. All That Is follows Philip Bowman from a Second World War battle fleet into the publishing worlds of New York and London and the beds of many women. The main attraction is not the narrative, though - it's the beauty of Salter's words. -- Books of the Year * Financial Times * Salter's first novel in more than 30 years, which follows the loves and losses of a World War II veteran, is an ambitious departure from his previous work and, at a stroke, demolishes any talk of twilight. -- 100 Notable Books of 2013 * New York Times * 'In telling this drama, Salter gives us joy, eroticism, disgust, beauty, nostalgia, outrage, highbrow discussion and lowbrow humour. There are moments of crushing tragedy. . . followed later by lines of wry comedy . . . Throughout, the story is populated with rich and living characters who stand at the centre of our gaze . . . What you read stays with you and invites you back in . . . Salter has produced a novel that will last longer than the distractions that might keep us from it.' The Times 'If any living writer has earned the right to name a novel All That Is, it is James Salter. His latest novel . . . tells the story of Philip Bowman, a Harvard-educated US Navy veteran who becomes a New York book editor durign the great flowering of American letters in the 1950s and 1960s . . . Salter's breathlessly simple prose is often exquisite. His episodic structure results in a number of memorable set-pieces. The trip Bowman and Enid take to Spain in the early days of their affair proves as richly sensual as anything Hemingway wrote.' Sunday Times 'All That Is, which tells the story of a navy veteran and literary publisher, Philip Bowman , over a period of some 40 years, has a grandeur that is all its own. Its handling of time, its elliptical wisdom, and its occasional chest-tightening cruelties are masterful; every paragraph is quietly, carefully good. On the page, moreover, anyone can be young. It is an inordinately vigorous novel. So much feeling. So much sex.' Observer 'Richard Ford calls him 'the Master', Bellow was an admirer, Roth, too . . . Salter's first novel in more than 30 years . . . is set in the golden years of post-war America and is studded with magnificent portraits of minor characters, their whole essences captured, somehow, in a gesture and two lines of dialogue.' Daily Telegraph 'A consistently elegant and enjoyable novel, full of verve and wisdom.' Julian Barnes 'Enthralling . . . A vividly imagined and beautifully written evocation of a postwar world.' John Banville 'This masterpiece is a smooth, absorbing narrative studded with bright particulars. If God is in the details, this book is divine.' Edmund White I loved James Salter's beguiling, brilliant, worldly, sexy novel All That Is -- Simon Sebag Montefiore, Books of the Year * Evening Standard * Masculine, clear-cut, ravishingly sensual -- Books of the Year * Sunday Telegraph * Not in my (admittedly failing) memory have I read a novel that, at its crucialest moment, made me just stand straight up out of my chair and have to walk around the room for several minutes. Laid into the customary Salterish verbal exquisiteness and vivid intelligence is such remarkable audacity and dark-hued verve about us poor humans. It's a great novel. -- Richard Ford, Books of the Year * Guardian * Effortlessly beautiful, funny, sexy and wise - the kind of novel that makes you want to delete your own meagre work-in-progress and start over. Is there a How to Write Like Salter Handbook? If so, that's what I want for Christmas, please. -- Julie Myerson, Books of the Year * Observer * 'The best novel I've read in years. All That Is will be treasured by its readers. Salter's vivid, lucid prose does exquisite justice to his subject-the relentless struggle to make good on our own humanity. Once again he has delivered to us a novel of the highest artistry.' Tim O'Brien 'A beautiful novel, with sufficient love, heartbreak, vengeance, identity confusion, longing, and euphoria of language to have satisfied Shakespeare.' John Irving
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?