The cinematic first chapter of James Salter's new book All That Is
is set during World War II, during the Battle of Okinawa, when American forces were slowly "prying" many an island from the Japanese. The chapter serves as a perfect frame of reference for the three men who make up most of its narrative: there's dashing Kimmel who always boasts about his sexual exploits, pious Brownell, who's constantly embarrassed by details about Kimmel's escapades; and finally, Philip Bowman, a run-of-the-mill obedient deckhand who is diligent and does as he's told. While this first chapter is very unlike the rest of the novel, it serves to give us a sneak peek at the characters' personalities and discover how they change (or not) during the course of their lives. Soon the war ends, the camera zooms in and the rest of the book focuses mostly on Bowman as he...
Beyond the Book
In All That Is
, just after World War II, one of Bowman's good friends is so captivated by the village of Piermont, New York that he buys a house close to the water and watches the Hudson river flow by from his home. The town, in New York's Rockland County, is picturesquely framed by the Hudson river on one side and the Tallman Mountain State Park on the other.
These days Piermont, which is just a few miles south of the Tappan Zee bridge (one of the main connectors between New York City and New Jersey), is a fashionable village...