Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of All That Is by James Salter

All That Is

by James Salter

All That Is by James Salter X
All That Is by James Salter
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2013, 304 pages

    Paperback:
    Jan 2014, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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 naval officer in battles off Okinawa during World War II, Philip Bowman returns to America and finds a position as a book editor. It was a time when publishing was still a private affair - a scattered family of small houses here and in Europe - a time of gatherings in fabled apartments, parties into the night. It is a world in which to immerse himself, a world of intimate connections and surprising triumphs. But the deal that Philip cannot seem to close is love: one marriage goes bad; another fails to happen; and, finally, he meets a woman who enthralls, then betrays him, setting him on a course he could never have imagined for himself.

Written with Salter's signature economy of prose, All That Is fiercely, fluidly explores a life unfolding in a world on the brink of change: a dazzling, sometimes devastating labyrinth of love and ambition, of the small shocks and grand pleasures of being alive.

Chapter 1
Break of Day

All night in darkness the water sped past.
 
In tier on tier of iron bunks below deck, silent, six deep, lay hundreds of men, many face-up with their eyes still open though it was near morning. The lights were dimmed, the engines throbbing endlessly, the ventilators pulling in damp air, fifteen hundred men with their packs and weapons heavy enough to take them straight to the bottom, like an anvil dropped in the sea, part of a vast army sailing towards Okinawa, the great island that was just to the south of Japan. In truth, Okinawa was Japan, part of the homeland, strange and unknown. The war that had been going on for three and a half years was in its final act. In half an hour the first groups of men would file in for breakfast, standing as they ate, shoulder to shoulder, solemn, unspeaking. The ship was moving smoothly with faint sound. The steel of the hull creaked.
 
The war in the Pacific was not like the rest of it. The ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. All That Is is preceded by an epigraph: "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." In what ways does this enigmatic statement illuminate the story that follows? Why would it be that only things preserved in writing are "real"?
  2. James Salter has been called "a writer's writer" and praised for the artistry of his sentences. What are the most appealing qualities of Salter's prose style? In what ways does his writing differ from that of most contemporary novelists?
  3. The novel is told primarily from Bowman's point of view, but the narrative shifts perspectives, and the narrator reveals things that Bowman can't know about. ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Despite its many merits though, the pillar on which this novel rests, Philip Bowman, remains a frustratingly opaque character. Protagonists don’t necessarily have to be good or bad for us to engage with them but they have to give us some reason to care. Bowman doesn’t. That we can still engage with the story regardless speaks volumes about Salter’s writing...continued

Full Review (897 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Achingly real...Salter punctuates his elegant prose with sharp, erotic punches.

Booklist
The many sex scenes are doleful; the pegs to world events wobbly. Yet resonant passages bloom...

Kirkus Reviews
There are incidental pleasures here but, overall, a disappointing return.

Author Blurb John Banville
Enthralling...A vividly imagined and beautifully written evocation of a postwar world.

Author Blurb Julian Barnes
A consistently elegant and enjoyable novel, full of verve and wisdom.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Small-Town Wonders

The view from the Firehouse on Sparkill creekIn 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 attracting yuppie visitors and artists, but not so long ago it was quite a depressed town. It had a manufacturing base and was home to the Continental Can Company in the 50s and a paper company, which shuttered ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked All That Is, try these:

  • Solar Bones jacket

    Solar Bones

    by Mike McCormack

    Published 2018

    About this book

    Solar Bones is a masterwork that builds its own style and language one broken line at a time; the result is a visionary accounting of the now.

  • My Name Is Lucy Barton jacket

    My Name Is Lucy Barton

    by Elizabeth Strout

    Published 2016

    About this book

    More by this author

    The profound mother-daughter bond is explored through a mother's hospital visit to her estranged daughter by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys.

We have 8 read-alikes for All That Is, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Last Murder at the End of the World
    The Last Murder at the End of the World
    by Stuart Turton
    The island is the only safe place left on Earth. Since a deadly fog overtook the planet, the ...
  • Book Jacket
    A Kind of Madness
    by Uche Okonkwo
    The word "madness," like many others that can be used to stigmatize mental illness — e.g., "...
  • Book Jacket: Long After We Are Gone
    Long After We Are Gone
    by Terah Shelton Harris
    Terah Shelton Harris's marvelous family drama Long After We Are Gone begins with the death of the ...
  • Book Jacket: Exhibit
    Exhibit
    by R O. Kwon
    Exhibit, R.O. Kwon's sophomore novel (after The Incendiaries, 2018), introduces readers to Jin Han, ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The Pecan Children
by Quinn Connor
Two sisters deeply tied to their small Southern town fight to break free of the darkness swallowing the land whole.
Book Jacket
Look on the Bright Side
by Kristan Higgins
From the author of Pack Up the Moon comes a funny, romantic, and moving novel about life's unexpected rewards.
Win This Book
Win Bright and Tender Dark

Bright and Tender Dark by Joanna Pearson

A beautifully written, wire-taut debut novel about a murder on a college campus and its aftermath twenty years later.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A W in S C

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.