Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “All That Is” as Want to Read:
All That Is
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

All That Is

3.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,325 Ratings  ·  917 Reviews
An extraordinary literary event, a major new novel by the PEN/Faulkner winner and acclaimed master: a sweeping, seductive, deeply moving story set in the years after World War II.

From his experiences as a young naval officer in battles off Okinawa, Philip Bowman returns to America and finds a position as a book editor. It is a time when publishing is still largely a priva
Hardcover, 290 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Knopf (first published 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Richard Hensley
Jun 21, 2013 Richard Hensley rated it it was ok
I found this book deeply annoying, mostly for its embedded misogyny but also for its dull protagonist and narrative torpor. The perspective drifts frequently; we enter the thoughts of more than a dozen minor characters but never any of the protagonist’s women, except for a few paragraphs late in the book when one of them is moved to cheat on him. Each girlfriend's point of view is absent, presumably because, as the protagonist’s mother says of his first wife, she has no soul.

The prose is good b
Oct 25, 2014 Ted rated it it was amazing
the slow profound rhythm began, hardly varying but as time passed somehow more and more intense ... she was trembling like a tree about to fall ...
"I married the wrong man", she said.

... and if you marry this book, I believe it's more likely to last, the older you are.

James Salter

James Salter has been called a “writer’s writer”, the “finest craftsman of the American sentence”. And yet before reading of him in The New Yorker earlier this year (an article probably occasioned by the publication of
Apr 15, 2013 Keith rated it it was amazing
A look back to another time, from the 1945 end of World War Two into the 1970s before the twin movements of anti-establishment youth culture and first wave feminism changed everything. Salter clearly looks back fondly on this time but it is as a time that is gone forever and now seems like an alien culture.

In the hands of a lesser writer this tale of culture, class, power and wealth would be a miserable failure. Salter is often defined, in an almost obligatory fashion, as a "writer's writer." I
Joe Szczepaniak
Jul 10, 2013 Joe Szczepaniak rated it it was ok
Having read this book in short order, I took some time afterward to let it wash over--certain I had missed something. Is the grand statement embedded in the title: All That Is? Is this dull cycle of lust, bordeom, and betrayal all that there is in life? If that's the message, then Salter is a bit late to the party. Nihilism has been explored ad nauseum, and we don't need another book with nothing new to say on the subject. But perhaps I missed something.

I felt that Bowman, our main character--fl
Diane Meier
Oct 06, 2013 Diane Meier rated it it was amazing
The people who review 'All That Is' as though they expect to find "all things fair and proper," are missing the point about Salter. Think of hims as a painter - Like Degas or Vermeer - and you'll find the path.

I was lucky enough to hear him interviewed on Thursday night at the Irish Art Center, and suddenly - it was clear. He means to paint portraits of the lives around him. Not his point of view. Not what he wishes might be there. Not what the world needs for fairness. Just what he sees. And i
Boris Feldman
Apr 06, 2013 Boris Feldman rated it did not like it
I forced myself to finish this book. True, for the last 30% or so, I flipped the digital pages quickly. I was determined to reach the end to see why, oh why, Amazon chose it as a Best Book of the Month and the blurbers raved. (Why do the blurbers rave?)

I admit that the language is often well-done. The sample that I downloaded, the first pages, were fine.

But it is a novel devoid of plot. It is a pointless pastiche of vignettes about the protagonist's empty sexual conquests and the vacuity of his
What draws me to recommend this book is the writing. I thoroughly enjoy Salter's description of places and individuals. And sex - explicit but not too graphic and not rosily drawn in romantic words.

The places so wonderfully described are Manhattan and its suburbs. Paris, France. Spain. Thunderstorms. Beaches. Restaurants and bars. The publishing community as it was after the Second World War. The publishing houses are fictional but the atmosphere of the time feels genuine as well as the authors
Sep 25, 2015 Bill rated it it was ok

2.0 (faint and distant) STARS

Perhaps I’ve become addicted to … no that’s not correct … perhaps I’ve come to expect gruesome violence, sexual abuse, explicit sexual encounters often to the point of depraved deviance or some degree of pedophilia or child exploitation in every book I read these days. It seems the most popular books or those produced by new, up and coming authors invariably contain some version of these themes. Perhaps these themes are necessary to satisfy the demands of the marketp
Apr 09, 2013 Neal rated it it was amazing
So... damn... good...
At Amazon, we picked this as a Best Book of the Month. In my Amazon review I wrote: "Beneath the deceptively straightforward coming-of-age and growing-old narrative--boy meets girl, loses girl; meets, loses; meets, loses--lurks the deeply personal story of what it meant to be a 20th century man. Phillip Bowman is the archetype of the flawed, ambitious, lust-filled American male. He’s Don Draper. He’s Rabbit Angstrom. He’s your dad. He’s my dad. (Also named Phil; also from N
May 19, 2013 Melanie rated it it was ok
Oh how I wanted to love thee...

It's a little cruel to have to choose how many stars to give this book. My heart was oscillating between two or three. Both seemed cruel but I chose two.

I adore James Salter. "Light Years" was such a luminous, haunting book. "Burning The Days" was such an energetic, urgent memoir.

What happened to the energy, the urgency, the passionate, beating heart of life? Is this really "all that is"? I certainly hope not.

I was tremendously bored throughout the novel. I was dev
Adam Ross
Mar 28, 2013 Adam Ross rated it it was amazing
It's silly to compare Salter's All That Is to his previous masterpieces: Light Years, Burning the Days, A Sport and a Pastime. His stories. Not all of them, of course, but quite a few will endure. Still, the novel's terrific and will engender, I know, a massive reconsideration of his work, which is neglected, under-read, misunderstood, too brutal and unsparing for some, too highbrow for others, too sexual, too white, too whatever. Whatever. If you miss him, you've missed something great, and her ...more
Andrew Smith
Mar 26, 2015 Andrew Smith rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-finished
I'm afraid I failed to finish this one. I got about a third of the way through and had enjoyed some of the writing and some sections had actually been really good, but the problem for me was twofold:

1) I just didn’t care enough about the lead character who seemed dull and was plodding through life after the World War 2. Nothing of any interest was happening to him and he, in turn, had nothing interesting to say.

2) I got lost in the myriad of characters, many of whom were dropped instantly after
Jan 31, 2016 Cody rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-fiction
More of the same beautiful prose we always expect from Salter. 'All That Is' is a tale of the ordinary, but the novel itself is extraordinary. After seeing the reviews from the goodreads community, I was prepared to be let down by this final book from one of my favorite authors. Instead what I found was a new favorite and perhaps, Salter's best novel this side of 'The Hunters.'

I have read articles comparing Salter to Hemingway, and while I hate stacking one author against another, I couldn't hel
Claudia Putnam
Jun 01, 2013 Claudia Putnam rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
What if a woman had written this book--stylistically interesting in places, but basically a babbling chronicle of all the lovers a main (female) character had had? Wouldn't that be dismissed as chick lit?

Can't jump on the bandwagon with this one. So many people are praising the style/beautiful writing, but having just read Light Years a few months ago, this seems a little clunky in comparison. Also, shouldn't an author evolve over the years, stylistically? Does he really want to say the same th
Apr 08, 2013 Amanda rated it really liked it
I’m writing this review immediately after reading All That Is. I’m emotionally confused. James Salter did something to me in his writing that I never expected. I grew to love his concise words and phrasing. After taking a month to finish reading this book that I wasn’t sure that I could finish or wanted to, I feel uneasy. I also feel a small smile on my face for finishing the novel and finally becoming attached to the main character, Philip Bowman. It only took a month to do it. I’m left feeling ...more
Violet wells
All That Is was my introduction to James Salter. I suppose the ultimate worth test of any novel, upon finishing it, is do I want to read another one of his books? The answer to this is, yes. Yes but not in a mad hurry of love.
His prose is almost like underwriting – sketched impressions that flit with a surprising dexterity over huge expanses of time and from one character’s perspective to another. Often he enters the point of view of sideshow characters for a moment, offers an anecdote or a vig
John Thorndike
Jun 03, 2013 John Thorndike rated it really liked it
There is an act of revenge near the end of the book that stopped me cold. Other reviews have described it, so I won’t. Better to discover it as you read the book--and in fact, as you get close you’ll see it coming. The revenge is stunning in its cruelty, but what I find untenable is how indifferently Philip Bowman carries out the act, and how easily Salter lets Bowman off the hook. Only pages later he’s having another love affair, then another, then the book ends. But I’m stuck 30 pages back. Sa ...more
Ryan Chapman
Sep 10, 2013 Ryan Chapman rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
One of Salter's strengths is his ability to convey the slow negotiations of new love, from two strangers meeting to the frisson of flirtation and the raw physicality of intercourse. (And by "raw" I don't mean fast; in Salter's universe the sex is quite deliberate.) Pair this with a protagonist who works as a literary fiction editor in the postwar years--a time ripe for easy nostalgia--and you have the makings of a great novel.

So why then is All That Is so underwhelming? Perhaps it has to do with
Aug 11, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2013
I got this book based on a glowing review in a NYTimes book review. In that review, it said something like 'people unfamiliar with James Salter should probably start with a more accessible book of his, like A Sport and a Pasttime, as this is one of his most difficult works to date.'

A ha, I scoffed. I read books like they're going out of style. How "difficult" can this be? I'm up for a challenge! Bring it on, Salter.

Let me tell you, this is a difficult book, and a gorgeous book, and even though
Ilenia Zodiaco

Un Bill Murray che spieghi perfettamente la situazione per iniziare.

Ho sentito grandi cose su questo libro. Elogi, critiche adulatorie, ululati alla luna e così via. Tra me e voi, sono rimasta del tutto indifferente all'uso sapiente della prosa unicamente perché è del tutto accondiscendente nei confronti del lettore. Tutto è molto elegante, raffinato, banale, perbene. Badate, l'indifferenza (come le donne di questo libro d'altronde, "indifferenti ma conse
Carl R.
May 30, 2013 Carl R. rated it it was ok
James Salter's Phillip Bowman survives two sinking ships in WWII. Then he comes home, gets a job as an editor, then gets married, then gets divorced after a while, then bounces from woman to woman like a beach ball tossed around in a football stadium. He has a couple of intense love affairs, one of which he hopes will end in marriage, but ends up with a big-time betrayal instead, so he goes back to bouncing from woman to woman again. Through all this his job is good. He gets to go to Europe a lo ...more
Luís Miguel
Jun 17, 2015 Luís Miguel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Existem livros que retratam partes de uma vida e existem vidas em retrato. A saga de Phil Bowman é um bicho estranho: parece ser demasiado inconsequente para entusiasmar, mas no fim deixa saudade. Confesso ter passado alguma dificuldade para chegar a este "acontecimento literário", mas se Easton Ellis, Nabokov e outros mais defendem Salter como um deus esquecido, quem sou eu para questionar?

Salter escreve bem - bastante bem até - ao ponto de fazer lembrar Roth ao formar camadas complexas da apar
May 15, 2014 Eric rated it did not like it
Shelves: ficciones
Dotage. Everyone stood and clapped.
Gregory Baird
“There comes a time when you realize that everything is a dream, and only those things preserved in writing have any possibility of being real.”

Hmmm. I'm of two minds on this one. On the one hand: WOW. James Salter is an incredible writer. His descriptive style is flawless: clear, concise, creative, and imparted with gorgeous prose that has a poet's precision. On one character's drunk mother: "Her voice slurred a little but she rode over it as if it were a fleck of tobacco on her tongue, as if s
Chance Maree
Jul 01, 2015 Chance Maree rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary

James Salter passed away last month, on June 19, 2015. I became interested in his work after reading this (from Wiki):

His friend and fellow author, the Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Ford, went so far as to say, "It is an article of faith among readers of fiction that James Salter writes American sentences better than anybody writing today" in his Introduction to Light Years for Penguin Modern Classics. Michael Dirda of the Washington Post is reported to have said that with a single sentence, he
Philippe Malzieu
Aug 22, 2014 Philippe Malzieu rated it it was amazing
The book has been published on 21 of august in France. I read only 100 pages but I'm sure. For me it's the year book. It is is a twilight novel. At the evening of his life, the author teaches us a writing lesson. Critics talked about a small sad music to define the style of Sagan. In this book, there is the same nostalgia but with an incredible energy. And humour. Style of Salter is a small sad music inflated with the amphetamines.

Lions still howls.

Be careful, masterpiece.
After 30 years James Slater returns to the literary world with a new novel, All That Is. With 88 years of life experience under his belt, Salter offers a unique perspective of life, passion and regret. All That Is explores fragment of Philip Bowman’s life, as a naval officer in World War II, attending Harvard University and going on to be an editor of a small publishing house. While this doesn’t cover Bowman’s life in the way a memoir would, we get little snippets of his life and what is importa ...more
Jun 28, 2013 Dirk rated it it was ok
Perhaps I would have felt differently about this novel if I had not read much of the advance hype presenting Salter as an unacknowledged, underappreciated titan of literature, but my expectations for this 30-years-in-the-making work were set so high that I anticipated inhaling the rarified air of genius. While I agree that Salter's concise, well-turned, evocative sentences often approach the poetic quality of haiku, the narrative structure of the novel is episodic, with no clear direction except ...more
Joachim Stoop
May 21, 2016 Joachim Stoop rated it liked it
I fell and felt out of it too many times to give it 5stars. I had to fight skipping all parts who weren't about Bowman (f.e. about Eddings). Altough it reminded me of Stoner and Stegner's Crossing to safety, it didn't reach that level.
Para ser escrita por un hombre blanco hetero (muy macho) de casi 90 años, 'Todo lo que hay' no está nada mal. Lo más curioso es que esta novela de James Salter me gusta a pesar de sus defectos, a pesar de mis fobias, a pesar de todo. Me cuesta encontrar otra razón para justificar mi gusto por este libro que no sea la de que “está bien escrito”. Esto es algo raro en mí, ya que lo que a mí me suele interesar de la literatura son los personajes, personajes multidimensionales, complejos e incluso co ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Middle C
  • Woke Up Lonely
  • His Wife Leaves Him
  • Traveling Sprinkler
  • Harvard Square
  • The Two Hotel Francforts
  • In Times of Fading Light
  • Tumbledown
  • The River Swimmer: Novellas
  • American Romantic
  • The Woman Who Lost Her Soul
  • Life Goes On
  • Mr Lynch's Holiday
  • The Isle of Youth: Stories
  • Subtle Bodies
  • A Thousand Pardons
  • The Mulberry Empire
  • My Education
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...

Share This Book

“He liked to read with the silence and the golden color of the whiskey as his companions. He liked food, people, talk, but reading was an inexhaustible pleasure. What the joys of music were to others, words on a page were to him.” 26 likes
“There comes a time when you realize that everything is a dream, and only those things preserved in writing have any possibility of being real.” 13 likes
More quotes…