James Salter Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to his novels, James Salter has published short fiction in the collections Dusk, and Other Stories(1988) and Last Night (2005). He has also written screenplays and works of nonfiction that include memoirs and travel writing.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

James Salter is a novelist who has never reached a large or wide audience for his delicately plotted and precisely written novels, although the works have brought him much critical praise. The most noticeable aspect of his novels is the search for an edenic world or a perfect moment. Hisprotagonists fail to achieve or sustain that moment, but they prove themselves worthy of the quest. Also noteworthy are Salter’s careful observation and his polished and occasionally lyrical style.

Salter has been the recipient of several literary awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award and the John Steinbeck Award. In 2000, Salter was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Begley, Adam. “A Few Well-Chosen Words.” The New York Times Magazine, October 28, 1990, 40-43, 80-85. A biographical sketch of the author’s life.

Dowie, William. “A Final Glory: The Novels of James Salter.” College English 50 (January, 1988): 74-88. Explores the theme of glory in Salter’s novels.

Dowie, William. James Salter. New York: Twayne, 1998. First full-length, comprehensive examination of Salter’s life and career.

Dowie, William. “James Salter.” In American Short Story Writers Since World War II, edited by Patrick Meanor. Vol. 130 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1993. Discusses Salter as a writer of short fiction.

Dowie, William. “Solo Faces: American Tradition and the Individual Talent.” In Essays on the Literature of Mountaineering, edited by Armand E. Singer. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 1982. Places the novel within the literature of mountain writing.

Miller, Margaret Winchell. “Glimpses of a Secular Holy Land: The Novels of James Salter.” The Hollins Critic 19, no. 1 (1982): 1-13. Discusses the theme of the secular paradise found in Salter’s novels.

Salter, James. “Interview with James Salter.” Interview by Robert Burke. Bloomsbury Review 8 (May/June, 1988): 3, 6, 18. Interview with the author.

Salter, James. “James Salter: The Art of Fiction CXXXIII.” Interview by Edward Hirsh. The Paris Review 127 (Summer, 1993): 54-100. A lengthy interview covering Salter’s life and career.

Smith, Dinitia. “A Fighter Pilot Who Aimed for Novels but Lives on Film.” The New York Times, August 25, 1997, pp. 17-18. Discusses Salter’s film work.