All That Is by James Salter
All That Is is the brand new novel from American novelist James Salter. There is no one storyline that drives the novel but it follows one man’s life from his time in the Navy during The Second World War through to the early stages of old age. Bowman is his name and after time in the war, he returns to the UK and continues his studies, eventually working his way into the publishing industry. At this point in time, the publishing industry had a glamorous, upper-class image and Bowman works himself into the life of rich parties, large houses and elegant women.
I’ve had James Salter’s work described to me as an author who ‘doesn’t do plots.’ This is the first novel of his that I have read but I can see what they mean. The main reoccurring theme is Bowman’s passion for women, fond memories of his first wife haunt his future relationships even though he fully understands they weren’t meant for each other. The next time he feels he has fallen in love, he is betrayed and takes his revenge in an unexpected way. Salter creates an intriguing character in Bowman and even after finishing the novel, I was unsure if I liked him or not but understood his motivation throughout. What did strike me is Salter’s absolutely beautiful writing style that pulls you in and embraces you like a warm hug.
This is a literary novel that I am sure will be released to critical acclaim due to its devastatingly beautiful styling but I am not sure it will be so embraced by the everyday book-buying public. Personally, I did enjoy it but about half way through felt it was meandering and had no real direction, this did pass but I can fully understand how it could lose people.
Buy All That Is by James Salter