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Un bonheur parfait

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  3,432 Ratings  ·  476 Reviews
Nedra est belle, assurée, et sait donner aux gestes quotidiens une sorte d'élégance. Viri est architecte. Il rêve d'accomplir une œuvre qui lui survivra, et dévore les biographies des hommes illustres. Ils habitent une vieille demeure non loin de New York, ils s'aiment. Peut-être sont-ils moins heureux qu'ils ne le disent.
Paperback, 380 pages
Published October 6th 1999 by Editions de l'Olivier (first published 1975)
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Will Byrnes
Nov 01, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a portrait of marriage. I felt very touched by the lives he describes, not so much for their own travails, but in recognition of my own. There is such sadness in expectations unfulfilled. Our lives do not follow the script we write as inexperienced authors of our lives. We drift apart, do not, cannot travel like paired rails to a common destination. I guess that is what this book is about. I found it lyrical as well as sad, beautifully written, not the heroic in the world, the challenged ...more
Violet wells
Sep 10, 2014 Violet wells rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Light Years is a novel about a marriage and about home – home only sometimes the place where the heart is. Salter focuses on a couple who usually have a supporting role in other novels. The kind of restless, disaffected, showy, promiscuous couple who provide an inkling that there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark. Except there’s no Hamlet in this novel, no Gatsby, no innocent who will be undone by the toxins of a culture in decline. Salter puts at the heart of his novel characters who a
Sep 04, 2015 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Salter was born in 1925.
He grew up in New York....attended West Point.
He was a career officer and Flight Pilot in the United States Air Force from 1945 to 1957.
He earned a living as a writer after he resigned from the military.
James Salter died last year, June 19, 2015, at the age 90

This book, "Light Years", is my first exposure to Salter. He won numerous literary awards.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Ford has been quoted as saying...
"It is an article of faith among readers of fiction
Apr 15, 2011 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel to read quickly, in a few long gulps. Reopening it each time, I needed at least 20 pages to recover the book’s subtle groove. Snatching a chapter here or a few pages there didn’t work: the characters sounded trivial, their pillow talk and dinner chatter banal, infuriating. I had to let their days accumulate. And the writing can seem all-too hushed and solemn; but the imagery becomes inevitable, the rhythms right. I admire Salter for having the balls to write a novel requiring such immers ...more
William Thomas
You ever have one of those days where you spend the waning daylight hours staring out of a picture window at nothing in particular, with a far away look on your face, trying to clear your mind with a scotch in one hand and the other hadn stuffed in your pocket, rocking back and forth on your heels every so often, shaking the glass to break up the ice and then sighing so heavily that you physically deflate, your shoulders slumping and posture slouching?

This book is the literary equivalent of thi
Sep 13, 2007 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of "Revolutionary Road"?
Hmm. I admired this more than I liked it. It's one of the most generic stories ever told, really, about the dissolution of the privileged lives of family and friends. Westchester County. The Hamptons. European travel. Educated, urbane conversation. Too much knowledge of good wine. Hot, intelligent children. "Luminous" prose, yea, but it seemed too often mannered for me. The syntax is consistent, two phrases separated by a comma, the second phrase deepening the resonance, often with an unexpected ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
"The only thing I'm afraid of are the words 'ordinary life.'"
This novel, first published in 1975, has somehow drifted onto my radar lately and I'm not sure why. I bought it on a whim and I almost never buy brand new books. I'm so glad I did. It is an incredibly thought provoking look at marriage, satisfaction with our lives as we age, etc. Although I'm not sure I will read in bed anymore. I had this on my bedside table for almost a month and almost quit reading it. It felt fragmented but I think
Steven  Godin
Salter has struck gold here with one of the most beautifully written book I will ever get to read, but this is not a story in the traditional sense, and some will struggle with Salter's writing, as this was probably written with older adults in mind and those with children, but should undisputedly be appreciated by all. Reflecting on moments in life, feelings for the change in ones family and the wide range of emotions this can bring and just simply the passing of time are the foundations for th ...more
Let me start by saying that this book is a gem, flawless, rich, intelligent, emotional, mature. It is a work of genius. Of a minor genius (in the grand sweep of things), perhaps; but of genius, nonetheless.

The Hunters is an excellent book - beautifully written, plotted, with rich and believable characters -- often handled deftly with a few quick strokes. In it, Salter shows that he is developing a craftsmanship of real note. And added to that is the fact that he actually has something to say.

I t
Sep 13, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessica by: samuel
I loved this more than I've loved any novel in a very long time, but please don't interpret that as a recommendation because you might really hate it. It spans something like fifteen years of a marriage and is mostly about sexy people with tons of money enjoying elaborately prepared meals and traveling around under various types of sky. But it's great.

I've noticed that many people have no tolerance for novels about unendearing rich characters doing nothing -- or perhaps more accurately, not supe
I could list quite a few little details in this book of things that are missing or that don't add up, things that might annoy me....... but none of them do! "How does she earn her living? How does she have money for that?" fleeted through my head on several occasions! They are just not all that important! She did somehow, and I am satisfied with that. I really, really liked the book! It moved me. At the end I had tears in my eyes.

Why is this? It is because the words create a mood, a feel of a t
Feb 24, 2014 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
This is the second novel by James Salter I've read and by far the most brilliant. I read The Hunters last year, which is a fine tale about the air war during the Korean conflict. For some reason, much of Light Years, a later novel, reminded me of the early D.H. Lawrence, especially the writing style, the terse, poetic subtlety, the directness and the need to eclipse the ordinary with vaulting description of thought and action interweaving, and yet somehow it all paints a world seemingly aloof, o ...more
Dec 23, 2011 Bradley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I tried to like it, I really tried. Had to read it for a class, and while there were enjoyable moments, it was for the most part incredibly boring. Someone else reviewing it called it old white guy fiction and that is exactly what it is. And there is entertaining and good old white guy fiction, but Light Years is not even that. I not only didn't like either of the main characters, I actively hated them. They were selfish, self-centered, altogether terrible people who didn't have any real problem ...more
Amanda Rose
Feb 24, 2011 Amanda Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book felt like a punch to the gut. When I finished it, I felt as though I'd lost people who had very quickly become an important part of my life. I have never read anything that more accurately and intimately described the truth about relationships. I skimmed other reviews by readers, and noticed that a few people pointed out that the characters are somewhat unlikeable. This is a personal quirk of mine, but I have very rarely really liked characters, or even people I meet, that are genuinel ...more
Kimberly Faith
Sep 13, 2011 Kimberly Faith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Salter analyzes marriage and the merits of independence vs. dependence. But, the novel is really a study of time. We know these characters through pin-points over twenty years. The writing is often stunning particularly as the characters travel through Europe in search of themselves and their true happiness. Salter is often oblique but because of this spare hand, some choices really mesmerize. He pays great attention to the changing of seasons and these shifts mark big changes for the characters ...more
Jul 11, 2007 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so beautifully written, so evocative -- not for everyone, I'm sure. The characters are held at a distance, and aren't always likeable. But there are these occasional, intimate glimpses.

I think I loved it for the language and setting. Moments like this: the father tells his little girls that he found their missing pony, Urusla, in the lake. He tells the girls that Urusla was swimming. The pony was looking for onions that grow along the bottom of the lake, she was stirring up the oni
Sep 18, 2013 Robert rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a true rarity for me. Not the one star, I'm not shy about doling those out. Not my lack of enthusiasm entering it; I'd just finished the marvelous "The Skin" by Curzio Malaparte so it would take quite something for me jump right into the next tale. Not my I found puzzlement as, after trudging through a needlessly florid, atmospheric chapter crammed with oddly hyper-selfconscious poetic language, I read the back flap description and wondered why I had picked this up in the first place: I ...more
Sasha Martinez
The book was in her lap; she had read no further. The power to change one’s life comes from a paragraph, a lone remark. The lines that penetrate us are slender, like the flukes that live in river water and enter the bodies of swimmers. She was excited, filled with strength. The polished sentences had arrived, it seemed, like so many other things, at just the right time. How can we imagine what our lives should be without the illumination of others?

She laid the book down open beside a few others.
Feb 18, 2011 Sebastian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Utterly shattering. Even better than Salter's A Sport And A Pastime, which I adored. So rich in words, ideas, emotion and images that it almost hurts to read. Poetry as prose that nails with equal precision descriptions of a landscape or a street as it does the complex vagueries of the human heart. An elliptical look at twenty years in the lives of a man, a woman, their two daughters and their circle of friends in New York and abroad in and around the 1960s. The breakup of a marriage; the realiz ...more
Jaclyn Crupi
Jan 06, 2017 Jaclyn Crupi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I re-read this every few years and get more from it with each reading. It really doesn't get much better than this. 'There are things I love about marriage. I love the familiarity of it. It's like a tattoo. You wanted it at the time, you have it, it's implanted in your skin, you can't get rid of it. You're hardly even aware of it any more.'
Fernando Hernández
Nov 27, 2016 Fernando Hernández rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
El año pasado, leí el libro que James Salter (N. York 1925- N. York 2015), publicó con 87 años (después de más de tres décadas sin publicar): "Todo lo que Hay" . Me pareció un gran libro y quedé con ganas de poco a poco ir leyendo más libros suyos (no tuvo una producción abundante a pesar de haber vivido 90 años).
Ahora le ha tocado el turno a "Años Luz", publicada en 1975. Al terminarlo, he tenido la misma inmejorable impresión que con el anterior libro.

Al parecer, el libro estaba inspirado en v
John Pappas
Sep 23, 2012 John Pappas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I've read a book so unique in its portrayal of devastation but so universally relevant in its pathos, ever, at least since Yates's Revolutionary Road. This novel, which follows the unwinding marriage of Nedra and Viri (two well-off suburbanites who live on the Hudson River) dares to ask the question, "How do you go on living when your best years are so obviously behind you?" When you haven't fulfilled your promise, or pursued your dreams, and when you realize your passion has dwind ...more
Jul 08, 2007 DoctorM rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Elegant, dream-haunted, deeply melancholy--- and crafted as precisely and delicately as a fine Swiss watch. Salter follows the dissolution of a seemingly perfect marriage and the fates of the two beautiful, flawed, alluring people involved through twenty-odd years. Very much worth reading--- and often worth reading aloud for the descriptions.
Margaret Tracy
Apr 15, 2013 Margaret Tracy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Made an impression that I won't easily forget...about marriage, loneliness, raising kids and the transience of it all. Maybe a bit depressing, so don't go there if your state of mind is not strong.
Light Years by James Salter is the portrait of a marriage that hides behind long dinners, a vibrant social life, brilliant friends, lovely children, and idle days in the country... A marriage that crumbles away under the weight of expectations.

Salter packs a powerful punch with his short, brutal sentences (which took me a while to get used to) but for all the luminosity of his prose and his ability to weave into the prosaic domesticity of life a sort of faery-like dreaminess of thought and acti
I feel oddly disappointed in myself for not enjoying this more. Some of it may have something to do with having to read most of it on the subway and it's terrible for subway reading. There's no plot you can immediately jump back into. The language is beautiful, highly poetic, but often to the point of seeming overworked, at least to me. It's hard for sentences to stand out if all of them are surrounded by other sentences whittled down to their most perfect parts. And I hate to say it, the charac ...more
It is only in the past year or so, I have learned of James Salter, and his reputation as "the forgotten hero of American literature". Salter writes beautiful prose and characters that you don't quickly forget. In this novel, set in the late 1950's and early 60's (and ending a couple of decades later), we meet a couple Viri and Nedra who have two young daughters. Viri works in New York and the couple lives in what was then a rural area outside the city. It is an idyllic life filled with sophistic ...more
Apr 23, 2013 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seldom has the evanescence of life, the passing from the years of light to the darkness of aging and death been assayed with such poetic, graceful writing. Salter also reminds the reader that, "One of the last great realizations is that life will not be what you dreamed"; a painful turning point for each of us.

Salter frames his meditation on mortality within the confines of the marriage of Nedra and Viri Berland. The perfect couple - darling children, witty friends - until infidelities and mount
Jun 21, 2015 Laurent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
De genadeloze analyse van een afbrokkelend huwelijk en de pakkende beschrijvingen van de levens die erdoor mee de dieperik in gaan. Onwaarschijnlijk bezwerende, minutieuze en suggestieve stijl: met enkele op het eerste gezicht banale penseelstreken roept Salter een myriade aan mini-universa op. Ontroerend, meeslepend, visceraal, diepmenselijk. Niets is wat het lijkt in deze uitzonderlijke roman, en dat is in veel opzichten een mogelijk sluitende definitie van grootse literatuur, toch? Caleidosco ...more
I loathed this book. Privileged narcissists commit adultery and their marriage breaks up. The characters were so vapidly self-centered, I couldn't bring myself to keep reading this lushly written chronicle of solipsistic privilege.

Salter's short story collection "Last Night" featured similarly narcissistic characters. Reading about rich a**holes might be tolerable for 20 pages at a stretch; beyond 100 pages it's pure purgatory.

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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
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“Their life is mysterious, it is like a forest; from far off it seems a unity, it can be comprehended, described, but closer it begins to separate, to break into light and shadow, the density blinds one. Within there is no form, only prodigious detail that reaches everywhere: exotic sounds, spills of sunlight, foliage, fallen trees, small beasts that flee at the sound of a twig-snap, insects, silence, flowers.
And all of this, dependent, closely woven, all of it is deceiving. There are really two kinds of life. There is, as Viri says, the one people believe you are living, and there is the other. It is this other which causes the trouble, this other we long to see.”
“The book was in her lap; she had read no further. The power to change one’s life comes from a paragraph, a lone remark. The lines that penetrate us are slender, like the flukes that live in river water and enter the bodies of swimmers. She was excited, filled with strength. The polished sentences had arrived, it seemed, like so many other things, at just the right time. How can we imagine what our lives should be without the illumination of the lives of others?” 32 likes
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