James Salter: Light Years

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The latest addition to my website is James Salter‘s Light Years. This is a very well-written but ultimately rather gloomy tale of failed relationships and failed lives. Viri and Nedra are seemingly happily married, living in a nice house in upstate New York with their two daughters. He is an architect. She likes to go into New York, have a drink, see friends and go to the theatre. They regularly entertain and are entertained. However, beneath the happy surface there is an indication that things are not quite right. She is looking for something but is not sure what. He falls in love with someone who works for him but his passion is not reciprocated. She has a brief affair. Meanwhile, around them, things are going wrong for others: a young neighbourhood girl dies of cancer, a friend is mugged and loses an eye. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, Viri and Nedra drift apart but, even after they divorce, things just do not seem to work out for either of them. Salter tells his tale well and he is a superb writer of moods and perceptions but this is a depressing novel.

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