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Memorable Days: The Selected Letters of James Salter and Robert Phelps

4.49  ·  Rating Details ·  41 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
James Salter had written two novels, The Hunters and The Arm of Flesh, but it was his third, remarkable novel A Sport and a Pastime, together with his film Three and a script he had written for Downhill Racer, that in 1969 elicited a letter of admiration from a writer and critic he did not know—Robert Phelps. The correspondence that resulted went on to span two decades. Th
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Hardcover, 224 pages
Published July 20th 2010 by Counterpoint (first published January 1st 2010)
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Pamela
Sep 14, 2010 Pamela rated it it was amazing
Pure pleasure. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a writer's letters so much. What is it about these in particular? They are intensely affectionate, gossipy without being cruel, passionate and idealistic about the calling of writing yet simultaneously earthbound and vulnerable. Salter's letters resonate with the same voice that is found in his fiction and memoir. So if there's not enough Salter out there for you (and there never is), you can drink another drought in this book.
iohokie
Jan 07, 2014 iohokie rated it it was amazing
Let me begin by disclosing that am a self admitted Salter fanatic and have read almost his entire oeuvre. Ever since I randomly came across his fist novel at a library book sale, I've been borderline obsessed with his work. There is perhaps no other contemporary writer save Cormac McCarthy whose whose pure prose I enjoy reading more.

As with pretty much anything I've read by Salter, I devoured this over the course of a few days. I was familiar with Phelps after reading Salter's memoir and remembe
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Keith
Jan 18, 2014 Keith rated it really liked it
I passed on an opportunity to buy this book three or four years ago. It always bothered me slightly but once I had read more Salter I really wanted to read it. (You know you’re hooked on an author when you start collecting the ephemera) Anyway this is a terrific collection of letters. Robert Phelps was a NYC based critic and writer. In 1969 he wrote Salter a fan letter. At this time Salter had published three books, The Hunters, Arm of Flesh and A Sport and a Pastime. Phelps was particularly tak ...more
sab
Sep 23, 2010 sab marked it as to-read
Doria says, "Okay, I admit that I can't be completely impartial in recommending this book, since Robert was my grandfather. But it does contain some of the finest examples of letter-writing you are likely to find in the English language. Anyone nostalgic for that lovely lost art - or anyone who loves reading specimens of purely perfect prose - will relish "Memorable Days"."
Sophfronia Scott
This book totally blew me away and I just devoured it. I discovered it via an excerpt published online at Narrative. I loved the letters right away because the affection these two writers had for each other was immediately apparent. I also liked how they spoke so frankly about their work, and about the business of writing. They share their frustrations, especially concerning a lack of money, and receiving bad reviews of their work. And the letters are just beautifully written.

Here’s Salter to Ph
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Dave
Jul 15, 2012 Dave rated it it was amazing
This book made me love James Salter. As a writer, as a person. Robert Phelps, too, although I've never read anything of his than these letters. More than just a collection of transcribed letters, this book is a timeline of an enormous friendship. In his introduction, Michael Dirda says "it gradually becomes clear that these are love letters."
This is true, and resonated behind every word.
I don't mean to hyperbolize, and since this is supposed to be a review, I'll try to keep my enamored ramblin
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Richard Cytowic
Nov 17, 2010 Richard Cytowic rated it it was amazing
A stunning and highly personal amaracord of the literary days from 1960-1990, Salter, it seems, knew everyone from his good fried Robert Redford to George Plimpton and many editors and writers on the planet. For readers like me "of a certain age" it is a delight; for younger folk, a taste of nostalgia.
Jeffrey
Jun 24, 2013 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Moments here and there but if you want to get to know Salter read Burning the Days - interesting, yes, but not quite what I was hoping for - insight I suppose - so worth the read but not essential reading
Larry
Aug 17, 2012 Larry rated it it was amazing
Here is the correspondence of two very fine writers, if you love books and gossip, you will love this book
Craig
Aug 23, 2010 Craig rated it liked it

I was just about to buy this book when a copy showed up in the mail gratis from the publisher. So I guess it does pay--though not very much and not very often-- to have written a few book reviews.
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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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“I'm tired of my life, my clothes, the things I say. I'm hacking away at the surface, as at some kind of gray ice, trying to break through to what is underneath or I am dead. I can feel the surface trembling—it seems ready to give but it never does. I am uninterested in current events. How can I justify this? How can I explain it? I don't want to have the same vocabulary I've always had. I want something richer, broader, more penetrating and powerful.” 39 likes
“One is seduced and battered in turn. The result is presumably wisdom. Wisdom! We are clinging to life like lizards.

Why is it so difficult to assemble those things that really matter in life and to dwell among them only? I am referring to certain landscapes, persons, beasts, books, rooms, meteorological conditions, fruits. In fact, I insist on it.

A letter is like a poem, it leaps into life and shows very clearly the marks, perhaps I should say thumbprints, of an unwilling or unready composer.”
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