Written with Salter's signature economy of prose, All That Is fiercely, fluidly explores a life unfolding in a post-war America that is changing at breakneck speed. A dazzling, sometimes devastating labyrinth of love and ambition, of the small shocks and grand pleasures of being alive.
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book
An NPR "Great Reads" Book
All That Is explores a life unfolding in a world on the brink of change. Philip Bowman returns to America from the battlefields of Okinawa and finds success in the competetive world of publishing in postwar New York-yet what he most desires, and what eludes him, is love.
Here is PEN/Faulkner winner James Salter's dazzling, sometimes devastating portrait of love and ambition, a fiercely intimate account of the great shocks and grand pleasures of being alive.
"A crowning achievement. . . . If there were a Mount Rushmore for writers, [Salter] would be there already."
- The New York Times Book Review
"Magnificent. . . . A major literary event. . . . Salter, who has the gift of writing sentences that exactly reproduce what we feel and think in the moment we feel and think it, moves beyond that incomparable skill and does something even more difficult: He gives us his heart."
- The Huffington Post
"Magical . . . A plaintive, impressionistic look at how we live in time."
- The Washington Post
"Vividly sketched. . . . Salter's surprising, striking grace is there in every scene. . . . Breathtaking."
- Chicago Tribune
"Intimate, rueful and finely observed."
"A writer of tremendous ability. . . . An absolute stunner."
- The Christian Science Monitor
"Shimmering. . . . Intoxicating. . . . Few can match Salter's depictions of life's physical pleasures, the sheer sensual delight of being in this world. . . . All That Is will last."
- San Francisco Chronicle
"Exquisite. . . . A mature, unsentimental story of one man's restless search for love. . . . [Salter] captures the angst of the privileged classes who seem to have all anyone could desire and yet long for something that lies just out of reach. . . . Effortlessly beautiful."
- Minneapolis Star Tribune
"The best novel I've read in years. All That Is will be treasured by its readers. Salter's vivid, lucid prose does exquisite justice to his subject-the relentless struggle to make good on our own humanity. Once again he has delivered to us a novel of the highest artistry."
"A much-anticipated occasion. . . . The book feels very true, even if the lives of the characters are quite different from our own."
- The Seattle Times
"A sexy, bittersweet story."
- Los Angeles Times
"Striking. . . . Seamless. . . . Beautifully done."
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"[Salter is] one of the finest prose stylists and most enviable American writers of the last half century. . . . [ All That Is is] the capstone of his half-century-long career."
- GQ "Read of the Month"
"A consistently elegant and enjoyable novel, full of verve and wisdom." -Julian Barnes
"Fantastic. . . . A brilliant indictment of love, even as it revels in its sensual transports." - Slate
"Salter [is] looking like the last exponent of a particular strain of 20th-century American fiction, deeply informed by the aspirations of postwar America. . . . He stands poised for a victory lap."
- The Village Voice
"A sad, hopeful work that beautifully evokes the pleasures and disappointments of a life lived in books, relationships, America."
"Salter has been called 'The Master'. . . . Bowman's life, like Salter's, coincides almost perfectly with the rise of American power and the brief, golden era of publishing. All That Is is not only the story of Bowman's life but also of almost every life with which his intersects."
"This masterpiece is a smooth, absorbing narrative studded with bright particulars. If God is in the details, this book is divine."
"Salter is a brilliant writer. . . . [ All That Is is a] journey led by a true master of the written word. . . . Intensely beautiful."
- Associated Press
"You come away from [Salter's] work wondering if you should have lived more, even if living more, in his work, often leads to ruin."
- The New Yorker
"Salter is par excellence the explorer of depths, a diver seeking the hidden, vital wellsprings of our consciousness. . . . [He's] done as much as any American writer to give us the sense of what it actually feels like to be alive and gripped by the fever of existence."
- The Dallas Morning News
Break of Day
All night in darkness the water sped past.
In tier on tier of iron bunks below deck, silent, six deep, lay hundreds of men, many face-up with their eyes still open though it was near morning. The lights were dimmed, the engines throbbing endlessly, the ventilators pulling in damp air, fifteen hundred men with their packs and weapons heavy enough to take them straight to the bottom, like an anvil dropped in the sea, part of a vast army sailing towards Okinawa, the great island that was just to the south of Japan. In truth, Okinawa was Japan, part of the homeland, strange and unknown. The war that had been going on for three and a half years was in its final act. In half an hour the first groups of men would file in for breakfast, standing as they ate, shoulder to shoulder, solemn, unspeaking. The ship was moving smoothly with faint sound. The steel of the hull creaked.
The war in the Pacific was not like the rest of it. The distances alone were enormous. There was nothing but days on end of empty sea and strange names of places, a thousand miles between them. It had been a war of many islands, of prying them from the Japanese, one by one. Guadalcanal, which became a legend. The Solomons and the Slot. Tarawa, where the landing craft ran aground on reefs far from shore and the men were slaughtered in enemy fire dense as bees, the horror of the beaches, swollen bodies lolling in the surf, the nation's sons, some of them beautiful.
In the beginning with frightening speed the Japanese had overrun everything, all of the Dutch East Indies, Malaya, the Philippines. Great strongholds, deep fortifications known to be impregnable, were swept over in a matter of days. There had been only one counter stroke, the first great carrier battle in the middle of the Pacific, near Midway, where four irreplaceable Japanese carriers went down with all their planes and veteran crews. A staggering blow, but still the Japanese were relentless. Their grip on the Pacific would have to be broken finger by iron finger.
The battles were endless and unpitying, in dense jungle and heat. Near the shore, afterwards, the palms stood naked, like tall stakes, every leaf shot away. The enemy were savage fighters, the strange pagoda-like structures on their warships, their secret hissing language, their stockiness and ferocity. They did not surrender. They fought to the death. They executed prisoners with razor swords, two-handed swords raised high overhead, and they were merciless in victory, arms thrust aloft in mass triumph.
By 1944, the great, final stages had begun. Their object was to bring the Japanese homeland within range of heavy bombers. Saipan was the key. It was large and heavily defended. The Japanese army had not been defeated in battle, disregarding the outposts-New Guinea, the Gilberts, places such as that-for more than 350 years. There were twenty-five thousand Japanese troops on the island of Saipan commanded to yield nothing, not an inch of ground. In the order of earthly things, the defense of Saipan was deemed a matter of life and death.
In June, the invasion began. The Japanese had dangerous naval forces in the area, heavy cruisers and battleships. Two marine divisions went ashore and an army division followed.
It became, for the Japanese, the Saipan disaster. Twenty days later, nearly all of them had perished. The Japanese general and also Admiral Nagumo, who had commanded at Midway, committed suicide, and hundreds of civilians, men and women terrified of being slaughtered, some of them mothers holding babies in their arms, leapt from the steep cliffs to their death on the sharp rocks below.
It was the knell. The bombing of the main islands of Japan was now possible, and in the most massive of the raids, a firebombing of Tokyo, more than eighty thousand people died in the huge inferno in a single night.