March 29, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

All That Is

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
James Salter
publisher
Knopf
genre
Fiction
We gave it a B+

James Salter is often labeled a ”writer’s writer,” meaning critical acclaim has come more easily than popular success. So it’s no surprise that the short-story specialist’s All That Is — his first since novel 1979 — plunges into the capricious world of book publishing, as WWII vet-turned-editor Philip Bowman navigates literary parties, author egos, and numerous affairs. Think Mad Men with more tweed. Salter opts for a panoramic view of Bowman’s life, bloating the narrative with minor characters’ backstories. But the sentence-to-sentence craftsmanship is stunning, and Salter can still write a perfect love scene. B+

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