by Campbell Geeslin
James Salter, 87, has published All That Is, his first novel in 32 years. He was the subject of a Profile in The New Yorker (April 15). His reputation is as a writer’s writer “or, as John Ashbery once said of Elizabeth Bishop, a writer’s writer’s writer.”
The author of the profile, Nick Paumgarten, wrote: “Salter is not famous. Among many writers, and some literary people, he is venerated for his sentence-making, his observational powers, his depictions of sex and valor, and a pair of novels that, in spite of thin sales and obscure subject matter, have more than a puncher’s chance at permanence.”
The big question: Why has Salter never had a big bestseller when some of his books are a lot more erotic and sexier than a hundred shades of gray?
The following is a brief, random sample of Salter prose, found by flipping open his best-known novel, Light Years:
“Summer. The foliage is thick. The leaves shimmer everywhere, like scales. In the morning, aroma of coffee, the whiteness of sunlight across the floor.”
Salter once wrote: “Life passes into pages if it passes into anything.”
He told his profile interviewer, “I like to write about certain things that if they are not written about are not going to exist.”
TAX TIME: In 2009, Barack and Michelle Obama paid taxes on $5.5 million. Most of their income came from royalties from Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope. Figures released just before April 15 showed that last year’s royalties amounted to $273,000. Maybe everyone who wanted to buy a book by Obama already has one. Will they have to wait till 2017?
REMEMBERED Peter Workman, 74, founder of Workman Publishing, died April 7. Among his many best-selling trade books are The Silver Palate Cookbook, What to Expect When You Are Expecting and The Official Preppy Handbook.
He published about 40 books a year and was noted for the passion with which he promoted his list. His New York Times obituary said that, “one of every three books issued by Workman sold 100,000 copies or more.”