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A Sport and a Pastime

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  3,935 ratings  ·  527 reviews
"As nearly perfect as any American fiction I know," is how Reynolds Price (The New York Times) described this classic that has been a favorite of readers, both here and in Europe, for almost forty years. Set in provincial France in the 1960s, it is the intensely carnal story--part shocking reality, part feverish dream --of a love affair between a footloose Yale dropout and ...more
Paperback, 185 pages
Published August 22nd 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1967)
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First of all, this star system aggrieves me. When I hover my cursor over the stars I learn that 3 stars indicates "I liked it" and 4 stars indicates "I really liked it" etc. "Liking" has nothing to do with my sense of this novel, and in fact, isn't even germane in this instance. I didn't like this novel. I still think it's rather amazing.

This novel feels dated in its subject matter, and is beset with passages of casual racism and sexual imperialism that are repugnant to me. The story opens in 19
mark monday
He hasn't the strength to dream, or rather, his dreams take place while he is awake and they are marvelous for at least one quality: he has the power to prolong them.
he has a dream of France. wintry and grey, rain and empty streets. he has a dream of a younger version of himself, handsome and aloof, virile. a tabula rasa of sorts. he can project himself onto that blank slate, into a story that he has made, and he does; but it is not his, not really. it is his dream version of that story, that
Some books I hear about through the loudspeakers of popular opinion (Harry Potter, Twilight, The Book Thief). Others are classics everybody has heard about (A Farewell to Arms, Les Miserables). Genre books I discover in dedicated forums and recently my wishlist is growing exponentially through Goodreads recommendations. But I always hold a special place on my shelves for the books I discover accidentally, like impulse buys in second hand bookstores that turn out to be personal favorites. A Spor ...more
When I came across Esquire’s “80 Books Every Man Should Read,” there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to read it. First, I – like most people on the internet – am partial to listicles. Articles are nice, but lists appeal to the part of my brain eroded by…what was I talking about? Second, I love books. That is, after all, why I am here, on this website. And third – I am a man. Beards! Flannel! Emotional reticence! The combination felt like it’d been written specifically for me.

That’s how I came
absolutely some of the most beautiful prose ever. seriously. i'm now a james salter devotee.

i'm glad i never had to read this book in a school setting because it's the kind of book that would be completely spoiled by literary analysis. "what phallic symbolism lies in the car?" "who is the narrator?" "how does the imvaginazation of the anus figure into the narrator's detachment from modern society?" blah. blah. BLAH. pick this up and let the language take you. forget the rest.
Lets stop beating about the bush here. To be crystal clear: Men CANNOT write about sex. (They probably don’t even understand it). When they do write about sex, it is only other men who might find it remotely plausible, let alone satisfying. Exciting doesn’t even come into it. This is officially the last book I am reading on the subject written by a man.

How bad can it be? Here is a little snippet (from 200 pages worth of similar delectable delights). Our hero, one Phillip Dean, is gallivanting ro
NickD’s indictment needs no additional count, so I will only register this novel’s activation of a collegiate boredom, a tedium I associate with a curricular corpus of films—mostly French, half-remembered, all untitled—in which chance couplings play out in an atmosphere of languorous tension and momentous triviality, silences and shrugged ouis. But, much like the boredom of those films, the boredom of Dean and Anne-Marie’s liaison (as distinct from the narrator’s other activities, inventions and ...more

Holy cow, I just finished this over lunch and am struggling with the attempt to actually stay here at work and not just run out into the streets to find a glass of wine and a ticket to europe or somewhere--anywhere else and wear dresses and heels and find lovers in dark corners of dancehalls and...sigh...

One of the finest endings in a novel I've had the pleasure to encounter.

LK made a reference to 'On the Road' and I of course was immediately thinking of Fitzgerald. My mind dwells in details, m
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
He has a name for the aggressive part of the male genitalia: prick. But he has no name for that of the female's. So for once every five pages or so would come his friend Dean's prick , hard once more, joyously being inserted again between her legs. Something seemingly unnamable between her legs. Maybe he didn't know what that thing is called. Or maybe he had his mother with him as he wrote this, constantly peering over his shoulder, plying him with coffee and biscuits and massaging his back whil ...more
Michael Meeuwis
I'd heard this one praised to this stars, but I found it ridiculous. I think I'm constitutionally unable to take sex--or, sorry, Sex--as seriously as this book does: "As his [redacted] goes into her, he discovers the world." (Apparently her vagina is Buddhism?) Some genuinely ugly business about race around the edges, too: "Eighteen, and a n[*****] for a boyfriend." Anyway, the narrator recounts (imagines?) an affair between Dean, a Yalie, and Anne-Marie, his lissome, personality-less French fuc ...more
M.L. Rudolph
1967. Tender story, beautifully narrated of a privileged young expatriate American's passionate and sensual love affair with an eighteen year-old French woman.

The unreliable narrator is older, 34, and meets Phillip Dean, a Yalie on sabbatical at a pension(?) in the town of Autun. But, the narrator tells us, "None of this is true. I've said Autun, but it could easily have been Auxerre." And he reminds us periodically that though there may be elements of truth to the tale, he made much of it up fo

Picking up James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime (1966) rang several soft bells in my mind. I know that at some point in the dim and distant past I had read an essay or review that celebrated his incredible talent. This talent is to be discovered in a small shelf of novels, essays and short stories. Of his five novels Salter has publicly stated that only A Sport and a Pastime has come close to living up to his standards. Despite his small output and his own criticism of it Salter is revered amo
When I was twenty-five pages away from finishing this book, I started planning out what I would say in my Goodreads review. I decided I wanted to say something admiring and yet faintly critical, such as "A languidly paced love story, written in immaculately finished prose." I planned to touch upon my mixed feelings toward Salter's use of an unreliable narrator: Nick Carraway's antithesis, a rather pathetic would-be photographer in his mid-thirties, a defiant voyeur and obsessive confabulator who ...more
Sep 12, 2007 Lee rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: men trying to convince women to reconsider the notion that their lowest orifice is a one-way street
I just finished this and the aubible sound my mouth made was "wow". I trust that unconscious audible reaction, and am amazed when I hear it, how pure it is, all that's needed for an honest review. Fantastic sentences. France. Like "On the Road," complete with a male writer's man crush on a mythic Dean, but by proper Yale grad/GI instead of Beat athlete. A page of dated rascism makes it a period piece, as do some classist/sexist passages, but the luscious, lascivious, lovingly rendered buggery de ...more
Andrew Schirmer
Oddly enough, Salter's erotic classic reminded me of nothing so much as Victor Segalen's René Leys--the idea of getting at the heart of a country by fucking one of its inhabitants--except for the fact that Salter's Philip Dean is nearly completely lacking in curiosity. Segalen's protagonists are insatiable in their desire to penetrate, to get to the heart of China. In some ways, the narration and descriptions of the small towns are a gauzy cinematic tribute to France, but the attitude of the pro ...more
Erik Evenson
Eleven pages into A Sport and a Pastime, the unnamed narrator throws us a curveball: "None of this is true," he says. "I am only putting down details which entered me, fragments that were able to part my flesh." From that point on, I found myself reading with squinted eyes. The lies would be revealing. None more so than the observation/creation by the narrator of the 24-year old Yale dropout, Phillip Dean, one half of the couple that copulates incessantly throughout the book. Phillip occasionall ...more
1950’s France, an American middle-class college drop-out Philip Dean begins a love with a young French girl. But this sad, tender story of their erotic affair has been captured by a witness, a self-consciously unreliable narrator. This narrator freely admits that some of the observations are his own fantasy of the couple making A Sport and A Pastime an intensely carnal account of this affair and in part a feverish dream.

James Salter’s writing in this book is really interesting; he creates this w
Jim Coughenour
Spurred by a strand of adulation I read somewhere, I ordered A Sport and a Pastime, a sex idyll set in a French village. Apparently this novel caused something of a stir in 1967, with its precious prose, redolent of novels which use words like "redolent" and its reverent obsession with the minutiae of making love. And before I say anything else, I'll acknowledge that it does cast a certain golden spell. I read it this week mostly on the train back and forth from work; it caught me up immediately ...more
Христо Блажев
В ритъма на сливането на телата:
”Игра и забава” е музика, ритъм, опиянение, страст, чувственост, дори иначе толкова грозната дума “оргазъм”, която обозначава върховното удоволствие, ония мигове, в които човек е по-жив и по-истински от всякога. Всичко това е тя, една кратка книжка на ниво, каквото всичките пошли порнотии няма да стигнат дори сумарно. Солтър наистина е изключителен писател, а деликатният и докосващ превод на Молев ни запраща директно в чете
You have to love a novel that renders vaginal penetration as, "He introduced himself."
Игра и забава: Еротичният роман, който няма да ви е срам да четете

Не си спомням какво очаквах, когато започнах да чета "Игра и забава" на Джеймс Солтър. Може би нищо. Може би очаквах, че няма да ми хареса и ще я хвърля на купчината с изоставени книги. Изглеждаше като еротичен роман, занимаващ се с поредната авантюра на американец във Франция. И книгата донякъде е точно това, но за пореден път осъзнавам колко е важен стилът и подходът към даден материал. На този свят можеш да пишеш за каквото си
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Stela Markova
Започнах книгата с предварителна нагласа за "еротично" четиво, а се оказах върху страниците на усещане, далечно от каквато и да е била еротика. "Игра и забава" е поредното майсторски преведено и редактирано заглавие на издателство "Лабиринт", което е изтъкано в сюжетата си от всевъзможните бягства и спорадично откраднатите наслада и покой.
An erotic novel, supposedly. But the hero is the writing itself--Hemingway-esque, but Fitzgerald-esque as well, because the events are told through a third-party narrator. And he's an unreliable narrator: emotionally stunted; jealous; neither physically present to see, nor told, the facts. And there's hints the narrator's admiration may be, at least in part, homosexual. So it's a gauzy portrait where the reader has to interpolate between the first and third persons. But central France in the ear ...more
Mardy Bum
Това, което прави Джеймс Солтър в „Игра и забава“, е изключително със своята чувственост. Не е роман – тази книга е поезия от първия до последния си ред, и то такава, от която настръхва всяко косъмче по тялото.
„Игра и забава“ не предлага вихър от забързано действие, нито немислими обрати или моменти на напрежение. Отличава се с изисканост и естетика – стилът е пестелив, езикът ромоли по страниците и оставя след себе си тръпнещо усещане като от бодване с игла. Има нещо в тази книга, което е кат
Like Salter's other novels, this book is a study in hero worship. Here the hero is not a fighter pilot ("The Hunters") or an alpine mountain climber ("Solo Faces") but a lover, whose intensely erotic affair with a young French woman is imagined by the novel's narrator, a casual friend who scarcely knows him. Phillip Dean (like a real-life counterpart James Dean) is in his twenties, good looking, intelligent, and with a fatal attraction to fast cars. (Dean Moriarty of Kerouac's "On the Road" also ...more
My selection for March - WOW, and April - 2nd Monday.

-------- see last part for review - although there isn't much to my review.
Early thoughts:

So this is how it is so far. I read to about page 50. Then I said to myself (and saying things to oneself is just what you are so inclined to do while reading this book and absorbing the mood) I'm not sure how I got here or what happened along the way. So I started re-reading. And Ah-ha! That's what he's doing. Just like I had to go forward then backwards
Salter's novel, at the distance of so many decades, is clearly well-loved, deemed worthy of a Modern Library edition. One can see why: this novel must in the sixties have seemed like a breath of fresh air, with its Parisian setting, shifting point of view, its elegant, slippery prose, its variety of sexual encounters along the course of an affair. Perhaps it was path-breaking in its day, but at this juncture its lovers seem acrobatic but not well-characterized. And the pacing is rickety -- the n ...more
I rarely abandon a book, but Salter's novel, albeit stylistically elegant, is simply boring. He can write perfect sentences. I'll grant him that. But the novel itself doesn't add up to anything I need or want to know, see or discover. As many reviewers have noted, the novel seems dated. In fact, I had to continually remind myself that the setting is France 1962 and not decades earlier. There are echos of Tender Is the Night but without the fascinating driving off-a-cliff craziness of Fitzgerald' ...more
Susan J.
Jan 07, 2008 Susan J. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of Consciousness and Conscious Lovers
Shelves: fiction
This book pretends to tell the story of a footloose Yale drop-out and his love affair in France, as seen by his slightly less debonair but wanting friend.

I almost lost faith in it...halfway through (even though great admirers of this book love it for this story alone), because the male fantasy seemed so trite.

But then I realized that this book has an extraordinary secret. A second story begins on page 11, an unwritten narrative unfolds, and if you let it whisper and unravel through the whole bo
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James Salter (1925 - 2015) was a novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. Salter grew up in New York City and was a career officer and Air Force pilot until his mid-thirties, when the success of his first novel (The Hunters, 1957) led to a fulltime writing career. Salter’s potent, lyrical prose earned him acclaim from critics, readers, and fellow novelists. His novel A Sport and a Pastime ( ...more
More about James Salter...
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