James Salter’s “A Sport and a Pastime” is the sexiest book I’ve read.
Ben Cake asked me what I was working on.
I told him a novella.
Naturally, he asked me what it was about.
I told him: a heartbroken gent suffering from Schizophrenia who finds himself in and out of bed with countless women, many of which who do not exist.
(If this feels a bit out of left field, in addition to writing advertising, I moonlight as a poet and a writer of prose.)
Then, Ben made a recommendation.
Ben is the best writer I know and when he tells me to read something, I read it, immediately.
Upon hearing the idea for my next book, he told me to pick up a copy of James Salter’s A Sport and a Pastime.
A couple days later the novel showed up on my doorstep, I cracked it and I fell head over heels.
I’ve been searching for the words to describe the brilliance of the book. But, I think Alex Christofi over at The Guardian summed it up perfectly…
“The only erotic novel ever to have been written where the prose is as good as the sex.”
I couldn’t agree more.
James Salter tells the story of a love affair between a Yale dropout taking a hiatus in France and a young French girl whom he falls for.
Salter’s sex scenes are as intense as Bukowski’s but dreamier; reading like poetry.
*James Salter is typing now*
“A bit of dark hair between her legs. They stand beneath the shower. He nestles himself flat in the meeting of her buttocks…
He feels unable to move, but he begins to soap her breasts which glisten like seals beneath the flow of water. He scrubs her back. Between the shoulder blades the skin is broken out in small, red points. He goes over them with the cloth. It’s good for them, he tells her.
Aureate light is reflected from the ceiling.
He has a hard-on he is sure will never disappear. He has wrapped her in an enormous towel, soft as a robe, and carried her to the bed. They lie across it diagonally, and he begins to draw the towel apart with care, to remove it as if it were a bandage.
Her flesh appears, still smelling a little of soap… he feels himself enter. Her last breath — it is almost a sigh — leaves her. Her white throat appears.”
The entire book reads like that, cover to cover.
Salter leaves the reader wanting to both make love and write, poetically, about the love that they’ve made.
By Cole Schafer (but mostly James Salter).
P.S. If you’re less of a romantic, I highly recommend you explore how Charle’s Bukowski’s writing style on the subject of sex differed drastically from Salter’s.
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Originally published at https://www.honeycopy.com on October 12, 2020.