Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review: "A Sport and A Pastime" by James Salter

Who would have thought that a book that fills almost half of its slim, 190 pages with graphic sex could be so boring. I really get what the book was trying to do, but A Sport and A Pastime by James Salter was the wrong book to read a few days before my vacation. I’ll admit I get distracted sometimes, but as I have said before, a book that is good enough will eliminate that distraction and leave me enthralled for however long it takes me to read it. The style of this book resembles Hemingway’s pared-down style, which, even when I tried to like him in high school, never seemed to click with me. I always seemed to be lost on what character was speaking. But I get the appeal of that kind of writing, and it fits this story for the most part. Told from the perspective of an unnamed and unreliable narrator, the love affair between a college dropout named Phillip Dean and a young French girl named Anne-Marie is recalled in explicit detail. A lot of the appeal of this book, at least for me, is in the relationship between the narrator and the facts. We really do not know if what is going on between Philip and Anne-Marie really happened and is being told to the narrator by Phillip, or if the narrator is simply making it up, using his desires and lust for a romantic relationship as a guide to the story he is telling us. That real mystery truly elevates this book from a mere erotic fiction to something more truthful to the human mind. But that does not make it or the story it is trying to tell outside the bedroom any less boring; with this idea of truth and fiction within the novel being the only reason I’d recommend this book.
Rating: 3/5

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