‘a sport and a pastime,’ james salter

“Certain things I remember exactly as they were.  They are merely discolored a bit by time, like coins in the pocket of a forgotten suit.  Most of the details, though, have long since been transformed or rearranged to bring others of them forward.  Some, in fact, are obviously counterfeit; they are no less important.  One alters the past from the future.  But there is a real significance to the pattern which finally appears, which resists all further change.  In fact, there is the danger that if I continue to try, the whole concert of events will begin to fall apart in my hands like old newspaper, I can’t bear to think of that.  The myriad past, it enters us and disappears.  Except that within it, somewhere, like diamonds, exist the fragments that refuse to be consumed.  Sifting through, if one dares, and collecting them, one discovers the true design.”

“I see myself as an agent provocateur or as a double agent, first on one side – that of truth – and then on the other, but between these, in the reversals, the sudden defections, one can easily forget allegiance entirely and feel only the deep, the profound joy of being beyond all codes, of being completely independent, criminal is the word.  I can merely say that some things I saw myself, some I discovered, for after all, the mutilation, the delay of as little as a single word can reveal the existence of something worthy to be hidden, and I became obsessed with discovery, like the great detectives.  I read every scrap of paper.  I noted every detail.”

james salter (what a lovely name!) loves the color blue, the purity of ice.  he was an american writing in english and his style has a little bit of hemingway and a sense of something foreign that i’ve read in translation – camus? hesse?  such clean prose, so delicately structured in every brief sentence that you forget the structure is there, even as it makes the entirety possible – the architecture of a snowflake.

look at me getting maudlin.  anyway, very much enjoying this book.

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