Thursday, June 9, 2011

Light Years by James Salter


My friend Erin recommended this book to me by saying, "You do NOT want to read this book!" Well, of course I had to read it!! It's now in my top 10 favorite books. I love discovering an author I've never read before. Mr. Salter is a master of the craft of fiction. His writing defines the word 'luminous'. I seldom meet characters in fiction that affect me as profoundly and deeply as the ones in this book did. The characters are burned into my brain like a distant memory of old friends...

It is the story of the marriage and lives of Nedra and Viri, set in New York in 1958. The writing is profound, prosaic, sparse and poetic. This book is not for those who are looking for light reading, but if you are fearless and like to read a story that both shatters and wounds you, then you need to read this book. I have probably 80% of the book underlined and highlighted, it's that good.

I leave you with a few of my favorite quotes to whet your appetite for more. Enjoy!

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A description of Nedra:

"She is twenty-eight. Her dreams still cling to her, adorn her; she is confident, composed, she is related to long-necked creatures, ruminants, abandoned saints...Her life is concealed." page 8

"It's not only that he knows wines, he knows the poetry of them." page 11

"The bottles of wine were finished. The color of their emptiness was the color in cathedral naves." page 12

"There are really two kinds of life. There is, as Viri says, the one people believe you are living, and there is the other. It is this other which causes the trouble, this other we long to see." page 24

"He suffered and loved like a woman; he remembered the weather and the menu in restaurants, hours that were like a broken necklace in a drawer." page 78

"In a single year she had abandoned her youth..." page 130

"The ending of days was too long, the darkness came and crushed her, she could not move...'Do we really only have one season? One Summer,' she said, 'and it's over?'" page 140

"The power to change one's life comes from a paragraph, a lone remark. The lines that penetrate us are slender, like the flukes that live in river water and enter the bodies of swimmers...The polished sentences had arrived, it seemed, like so many other things, at just the right time. How can we imagine what our lives should be without the illumination of the lives of others?" page 161

"No one knew Nedra as well as Viri. They were the owners of a vast, disordered merchandise; together they had faced it all. When he undressed at night, he was like a diplomat or judge. A white body, gentler and powerless, emerged from his clothes, his position in the world lay tumbled on the floor, fallen from his ankles; he was clement, he was froglike, a touch of melancholia in his smile." page 178

"He was reaching that age, he was at the edge of it, when the world becomes suddenly more beautiful, when it reveals itself in a special way, in every detail, roof and wall, in the leaves of trees fluttering faintly before a rain. The world was opening itself, as if to allow, now that life was shortening, one long, passionate look, and all that had been withheld would finally be given." page 201

"He was fifty, with a large torso and a face coming apart from age like wet paper...His hands were paws. He was the last of the bears, or so it seemed. Wine, stories, friends; he was a man lying fully clothed in the stream of days." page 206

"She prepared her eyes in the mirror. She examined herself, turning her head slowly from side to side. She did not want to grow old. She was reading Madame de Stael. The courage to live when the best days were past. Yes, it was there, but still she could not think of it without confusion." page 208

"There are hours when one literally drinks life." page 227

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I'll stop here. Those are just a few of my favorite quotes.

Have you recently read a book that profoundly affected you? Tell me about it! I'm always looking for MORE to read!!! xoxo

Love & Blessings,
Marion

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"When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before". ~Clifton Fadiman

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12 comments:

Wine and Words said...

Oooo. I'm excited :) I think I told you I was reading a book that just describes the organic farms of the valley visited by the author. I was in tears over a description of melons. It's not the subject that matters so much as how the walls are papered. Delicious. And this too! It's going on my list.

Wine and Words said...

Speaking of which....I am almost done with And Her Soul Out Of Nothing! I LOVE IT. Read some to Rob...who scratched his head.

Marion said...

Yes, Annie. The wall paper. (Ever read Proust?) LOL! I'm so glad you enjoyed Olena Kalytiak Davis. I recently reread that book, too. Ray still shakes his head at my poetry-lust/love. But I have my blog and an entire world of poetry-lovers to share with, thank goodness. xoxo

Kelly said...

At this particular point in life, I struggle with anything that isn't fairly light. So...this will have to simmer on the back burner for now.

Hmmm... trying to remember what some of my books have been this year. Oh! Have you read "Waiting for Columbus" by Thomas Trofimuk? It's one I really, really enjoyed and I bet you'd like it, too.

Phoenix said...

Damn, this book sounds marvelous! (and trust me, no book can destroy me more than "The Time Traveler's Wife" did, so I'm good to go.)

Don't you love it when good friends "recommend" something by saying, "You don't want to try that!" and us tough girls go, "Ohhhh yeah?!" lol I love it!

erin said...

truly, it is disgusting how well this book is written. i laugh. but the language is like peeling scabs over and over again. it is real and honest and deeper than skin itself. it was so hard for me to read this book. but it was harder for me not to. it is in a category of its own. i'm so glad you didn't listen to me, Marion. you write this exactly right, This book is not for those who are looking for light reading, but if you are fearless and like to read a story that both shatters and wounds you, then you need to read this book. it stays with me. for me it looks like amber light.

much love to you, Marion, you fierce and wonderful book lover, you

xo
erin

Serena said...

This book sounds wonderful and I'm going to look for it. I'm still reading lots of whodunits. Pure escapism, but they serve their purpose.
xox

Jaliya said...

I finished Mary Doria Russell's *A Thread of Grace* six days ago, and haven't been able to begin another book. It's set in northern Italy during 1943-45 ... It is a ravishing *and* ravaging story ... beautiful and harrowing ...

I will definitely read *Light Years*!

The quote from Clifton Fadiman -- YES :-)

Marion said...

Kelly, I'll check out that book. I did go on a chick lit reading spree after reading this book. So many books, so little time....

Phoenix, I liked that book, too. It was both disturbing and fascinating. You'll love "Light Years". Yes, us tough girls are fearless. LOL! xoxo

Erin, I can never repay you for turning me on to this book/author. It's like certain books come to you at just the exact point in your life when you NEEDED desperately to read them. This was that book for me. Love to you!!! xoxo

SJ, you're in for a real treat. I think I need to get me another clean copy because mine is so marked up. LOL! I love whodoneits, too. Hell, I read any and everything!! xoxo

Jaliya, thanks for the book recommendation. I'll check that one out, for sure. You'll love/hate "Light Years". It's just that kind of book. Thanks for stopping by. Blessings!!

Terresa said...

I drank up the quotes here, Marion. You know, you and I are a pair of readers, that is, we both appear to read & take notes/quote what we're reading (and share it!) as we go. The only way to fly/read!

My fave bit was this:
"In a single year she had abandoned her youth."

And the last quote about drinking life, which I completely agree with!

Happy weekend, may dragonflies attend you.

Marion said...

Terresa, you're my red-headed, long lost sister. ;-) We do seem to approach (attack) books with the same passion. I'm so glad to know you. xoxo

Marion said...
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