A Sport and A Pastime

A Sport and A Pastime

Book - 1985
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Baker & Taylor
Recounts a love affair between Anne-Marie Costallat, a village shopgirl in France, and Philip Dean, a Yale dropout

McMillan Palgrave
A Sport and a Pastime is an astonishing performance, the classic novel from a remarkable writer whose sentences bristle with a singular passion. Salter chronicles a love affair between a young shopgirl and an American college dropout against the backdrop of provincial France. The narrator's cool distillation of events-real or imagined-makes the book both lyrical and tightly, dangerously pitched.

Publisher: San Francisco : North Point Press, 1985, c1967.
ISBN: 9780865472105
Characteristics: 191 p. ; 21 cm.


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Mar 26, 2019

Keanu Reeves recommended

Jul 12, 2017

I learned of this book from a magazine article on the "10 most erotic literary works" for this summer's reading! While there are realistic erotic elements thread throughout, the story is more a reflection on the highs and lows of desire. The setting is France in the 50's or 60's which in itself conjures up images of the best of French cinema at the time, shot in stark black and white, the characters oozing sexuality, all fated in odd ways to finish out their lives tragically. The principal characters -- a young American university drop-out on his first tour abroad; a French girl, sexy in her youthfulness and ultimately far wiser, more realistic and grounded than him; and, a mysterious third friend, a narrator through whom the story unfolds and is recounted in a Kerouac-road trip style. You can tell that the author enjoys thinking about the growth and death of desire and lust, especially within a relationship. The story feels so real. As you read it you can almost feel the forboding end. A very good read and definitely worthy of being included on the 10 best list!

May 27, 2015

"The more clearly one sees this world, the more one is obliged to pretend it does not exist."
Released in 1967, James Salter's "A Sport and a Pastime," which has become something of a cult novel, doesn't seem to fit in with the Summer of Love ethos of its time. While it partakes of some of the boho free-spiritedness of the Beats and Henry Miller's raw sexuality, it also is a more crafted, poignant work in which the sex and the freedom aspects are tinged with a Fitzgerald-like melancholy. The story is simple: an American college dropout has an intense, passionate affair with a French girl. The book doesn't even run 200 pages and I think benefits from being read in a single day. Will appeal to fans of Cheever, Richard Yates, and Fred Exley. Reynolds Price, in the introduction, called it "as nearly perfect as any American fiction I know." The title comes from the Koran: "Remember that the life of this world is but a sport and a pastime. . ."

FW_librarian Nov 05, 2014

Reminds me of the type of novel we used to study in college - almost the stream of consciousness with a bit of prose-like descriptive narration. The writing is beautiful and the characterizations are excellent even though the book is a quick read, you can imagine and visualize Dean, Anne-Marie, the Jobs and the un-named narrator. The sex scenes are raw and cyclic, almost robotic and predictable but, isn't that true when one is young and experimenting. As with most great literary works, throughout the story, there is an underlying feeling of, "this isn't going to end well."

multcolib_central Jul 24, 2014

A disaffected american explore France. An intensely philosophical look at life through the leans of a love affair. With salter's work, on every page I think "my God is good." Prose that can compare with and embody the deepest pleasure found in life.

Jun 11, 2011

This is the first James Salter work I have read. His strength is his descriptive passages. Amazing. If you're on the look out for 'new' writers whose abilities revitalize your time spent reading, Mr. Salter is in that category. Born in 1925 James Salter is no doubt influenced by Kerouac and his 'life as an amusement' outlook and hence the way this book unravels. I found it hard to put the book down and forward to picking it up. The descriptive passages made the reading take on a pace that made me wonder if it was planned that way. I would recommend this short book to anyone looking for a change of pace. I will be looking at other of his works.


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