Jessica's Reviews > Light Years

Light Years by James Salter
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really liked it
bookshelves: here-is-new-york, groups-of-people, love-and-other-indoor-sports
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 super-rich characters, but a certain level of privileged bourgeois. While to some extent I definitely get this, I think there's a perhaps unfair exemption for books written before, oh say, 1930. Because before that point, weren't most books written about rich(ish) people lying around doing nothing, and does that seem to bother so many readers? I'd argue no, and if this irritable standard were extended back a lot of you would miss out on the best books. Light Years reminded me a lot of To the Lighthouse for many reasons, not least because I felt like if they hadn't been separated by half a century and an ocean, this family would've hung around having a lot of lushly described, unhurried lunches with the Ramsays. So I guess I'm suggesting that if you don't mind Woolf's characters, maybe try to suspend judgment on Salter's and give them a shot?

Light Years was one of those books with language that bleeds off the page and seeps into your entire life so that when you put it down and go off to do things it's as if you're living inside its world. This is some of the greatest prose that I've ever read in my life. While I felt the last fifty pages weren't nearly as good as everything that had come before -- they felt rough by comparison, not entirely edited, and dead in a way that the rest of the book lived -- it's still one of the best books I've read in a long time. Again, this isn't exactly a recommendation because I can see how a lot of my favorite people would complain that this novel is unreadably pretentious and dull, but I personally loved it so much I might start over soon and read it again.
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Reading Progress

September 13, 2013 – Shelved
September 13, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
October 7, 2013 – Started Reading
Finished Reading
October 17, 2013 – Shelved as: here-is-new-york
October 17, 2013 – Shelved as: groups-of-people
October 17, 2013 – Shelved as: love-and-other-indoor-sports

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Katie (new)

Katie I'm going to interpret this as a recommendation, haha. Added!


Lynn I loved Last Night, his book of short stories that I read on recently o your recommendation, so I will put this on my list.


Jessica Mom, I really don't know if you'd like this or find it extremely irritating. I kind of think (b) but I could totally be wrong.


Lynn Well, I loved the short stories - they seemed to so clearly describe the way people just are - so I will try the novel.
First gotta finish this novel by this new guy (new to me) - The Sound of Things Falling by this Colombian dude. Excellent, even though it is in translation.
If you think of it when you come could you bring me your vol 3 of Your Face Tomorrow? The libs don't carry it in English for some reason and anyway Marias takes so long to read.


Jessica YOU ARE IN LUCK! The only volume of that trilogy that I own is the third one, and it's on the shelf in my old room INSIDE YOUR HOUSE!


Lynn You are right! It is! In hardback too. Lucky me!


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