Burning the Days, James Salter

James Salter is one of the great living writers today in the US. I am reading his memoir, Burning the Days, with much enjoyment. His descriptions of his life are poignant and brisk — I savor my reading time of this work. It is time well-spent reading a master writer who has seen much and has something to say about it.

Salter describes visiting a friend’s house after her death:

“I went back to Denham in the fall. There was the ancient brick wall beside the footpath, leaning, staved by trees. In the distance the fields were speckled with gulls. The leaves lying at the bottom of puddles on the walk were still green.

I passed the Swan, where we often ate, the house called Wrango, uneven-roofed others. At last I came to the Hills House, hers. Through the blinds, in the morning sunlight, I could see an empty table.

The house had been sold. She was next door, in the churchyard, intruder among old families, the Barretts, Tillards, and Wylds with their gravestones head and foot, fading in the earth.”


Salter has a craggy writing rhythm that is beautiful in its regularly irregular nooks and crannies. I’m looking forward to the rest of the book. — Pam Dixon


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