Search Results for: "James Salter"

Saturday Morning

horse-close-up

Autumn morning.
The horses in nearby fields are standing motionless.
The pony already has a heavier coat; it seems too soon.
Her eye is dark and large, the lashes scanty.
Walking close, one hears the steady sound of grass being eaten,
the peace of the earth being milled.

~ James Salter, Light Years

 


Photo: Med777

Saturday Morning

orange-chocolate-dome-cake-img_5203

A breakfast of chocolate and oranges.
Reading, falling again into sleep.
He said very little.
They were deep in contentment;
it was full, beyond words.
It was like a day of rain.

~ James Salter, Light Years


Notes:

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

drip

Two years from now I can hear people saying: Your play is extraordinary. And my answer: It took me ten years to perfect my craftsmanship. I am wrestling with giants here. Every morning I wake up in a sweat, ready for the struggle. The impact is great, but I am never defeated. It is the rehearsals I miss, to attend them and see the progress the actors make. My being there is an absolute necessity. My eye and ear criticize every move and every intonation. I listen to the “commas” of the play as if they were drops falling from a fountain. Dis moi comment vont tout tes affaires. I am alone.

~ James Salter, Light Years


Notes:

Saturday Morning

bird-feather-plumage-red-orange
He wakes to find his wife lying on her stomach,
the children on top of her,
one on her back,
the other on her buttocks.
They are sleeping on her, clinging, head to foot.
Their presence absolves him, slowly he grows content.
This world, its birds in their feathers,
its sunlight … reason, at least for the moment.
It consoles him.
He is warm, potent, filled with impregnable joy.

~ James Salter, Light Years


Notes:

And he reads to them, as he does every night, as if watering them, as if turning the earth at their feet.

read-reading-book-children-night
And he reads to them, as he does every night, as if watering them, as if turning the earth at their feet. There are stories he has never heard of, and others he has known as a child, these stepping stones that are there for everyone. What is the real meaning of these stories, he wonders, of creatures that no longer exist even in the imagination: princes, woodcutters, honest fishermen who live in hovels. He wants his children to have an old life and a new life, a life that is indivisible from all lives past, that grows from them, exceeds them, and another that is original, pure, free, that is beyond the prejudice which protects us, the habit which gives us shape. He wants them to know both degradation and sainthood, the one without humiliation, the other without ignorance. He is preparing them for this voyage. It is as if there is only a single hour, and in that hour all the provender must be gathered, all the advice offered.  He longs for the one line to give them that they will always remember, that will embrace everything, that will point the way, but he cannot find the line, he cannot recognize it. It is more precious, he knows, than anything else they might own, but he does not have it. Instead, in his even, sensuous voice he laves them in the petty myths of Europe, of snowy Russia, the East.

~ James Salter, Light Years


Notes: Photo: zinegrrlReading

Burning the Days…

smoke-pink-burning

Life is short, as everyone knows. […]

When I ask myself what I’ve found life is too short for, the word that pops into my head is “bullshit.” I realize that answer is somewhat tautological. It’s almost the definition of bullshit that it’s the stuff that life is too short for. And yet bullshit does have a distinctive character. There’s something fake about it. It’s the junk food of experience.

If you ask yourself what you spend your time on that’s bullshit, you probably already know the answer. Unnecessary meetings, pointless disputes, bureaucracy, posturing, dealing with other people’s mistakes, traffic jams, addictive but unrewarding pastimes. […]

But you can probably get even more effect by paying closer attention to the time you have. It’s easy to let the days rush by. The “flow” that imaginative people love so much has a darker cousin that prevents you from pausing to savor life amid the daily slurry of errands and alarms. […]

One of the most striking things I’ve read was not in a book, but the title of one: James Salter’s Burning the Days. […]

Perhaps a better solution is to look at the problem from the other end. Cultivate a habit of impatience about the things you most want to do. Don’t wait before climbing that mountain or writing that book or visiting your mother. You don’t need to be constantly reminding yourself why you shouldn’t wait. Just don’t wait. […]

Relentlessly prune bullshit, don’t wait to do things that matter, and savor the time you have. That’s what you do when life is short.

~ Paul Graham, Life is Short


Notes:

 

(Nostalgia) The taste of early things lives on.

water-ocean-sea-wave-beach

As a boy I knew none of this. In the summer we went to the beach, Atlantic City, and stayed with my maternal grandparents: my mother, cousins, aunts, and I. Across the bright flatlands and bridges, the earth of the roadside losing its color, we drove, children in a separate compartment, the rumble seat, in back, hair blowing, arms waving in happiness. There was sea smell in the air and sun in the bedroom windows. The rhythm of life was set by adults but the carefree joys were ours.

We played all day in the sand, down where it was smoothest, the green sea hissing at our feet. Not far offshore was the black wreckage of a small coastal steamer. We were unable to go near it but it is stuck there in memory, the sea swelling over it and then pouring away, the water dropping in sheets from its sides…The taste of early things lives on.

In my mouth I feel the freshness of farm tomatoes and salt, the scrambled eggs my grandmother made, the unexpected gulps of sea. In my heart there remains childish love for those cousins, whom I saw only seldom and who later drifted away entirely.

~ James Salter, Burning the Days: Recollection


Image: “Beach Breaks” D.Fodie – Retrospective

A narcotic dream

book-store

Here, unhurried, one could browse for hours.
Ordinary life drowned, went under.
On the street outside, often cold and wet,
it seemed, were passers-by in overcoats and expressions of care,
but within the shop one leafed through pages in a kind of narcotic dream.

~ James Salter, Burning the Days: Recollection


Image source: Child in Time.

 

Monday. Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day.

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I think the British writer James Meek is accurate when he describes Light Years (1975) by the American novelist James Salter. […]

“There is no complete life. There are only fragments. We are born to have nothing, to have it pour through our hands.”

And this, again, is a common experience [from Virginia Woolf’s essay ‘Modern Fiction’ (1921)]:

“Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions – trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms; as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday, the accent falls differently from of old; the moment of importance came not here but there; so that, if a writer were a free man and not a slave, if he could write what he chose, not what he must, if he could base his work upon his own feeling and not upon convention, there would be no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe in the accepted style, and perhaps not a single button sewn on as the Bond Street tailors would have it. Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.”

~ Galen Strawson, I am Not a Story


Art: Simon Birch (via Lost at E Minor)

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