“How can we imagine what our lives should be without the illumination of the lives of others?” p. 161
This is exactly what James Salter does: he illuminates the lives of Viri and Nedra so artfully that after reading it we in turn examine our own. Are we as selfish and beautiful as Nedra? Are we as weak and ineffective as Viri? Is there a marriage which can sustain adultery and still survive? If we surround ourselves with wine and friends, wood fires and dinner parties, are we happy?
“There is no happiness like this happiness: quiet mornings, light from the river, the weekend ahead. They lived a Russian life, a rich life, interwoven, in which the misfortune of one, a failure, illness, would stagger them all. It was like a garment, this life. Its beauty was outside, its warmth within.” p. 69
But, does this life stay happy?
I have never read a novel by James Salter before, and I was mesmerized by his words. His non-existent transitions whisked me from one setting to another, from one character to another, from one paragraph to the next. It was disconcerting at first, but then, as one must do with all exceptional authors, one gives oneself over to his artful hands. In succumbing to his style, we dwell in his world, and become part of it ourselves. While still able to make judgements from the outside edges.