Writer dies: James Salter

Published: June 21, 2015

Writer dies: James Salter, James Salter, the author of novels and short stories including A Sport and a Pastime, has died aged 90.

Salter was consistently praised by critics as a talented and observant writer, but he largely failed to achieve commercial success during six decades of writing.

His most famous work was the 1967 novel A Sport and a Pastime, which focused on a US expat’s affair with a French woman. Harper, his publisher at the time, refused to release the book because of its prolific and lurid descriptions of sex.

Among his other noted works of fiction were the novel Light Years, several collections of short stories and the script for the 1969 film Downhill Racer, starring Robert Redford.

His writing was lauded for its succinct yet evocative style. The Pulitzer prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri said Salter penned some of the most perfect sentences ever written in English.

“Reading Salter taught me to boil down my writing to its essence,” she once wrote. “To insist upon the right words, and to remember that less is more. That great art can be wrought from quotidian life.”

Salter won a number of literary prizes, including two lifetime achievement awards, the Rea award and the PEN/Malamud prize.

Born James Horowitz in 1925, he grew up in Manhattan and later joined the US air force. He left the military to take up writing in 1957, and began using Salter as a pen name to hide his Jewish heritage and allow him to draw frankly on his time as a pilot.

His last novel, All That Is, set in post-second world war New York, was published in 2013.

His death was confirmed on Friday by a spokesman from his publishers, Alfred A Knopf. He is survived by two daughters and three sons from his two marriages, and four grandchildren.

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