I’m reading “The Art of Fiction” by James Salter, an essay full of treasures, like for example this, on the language of Isaac Babel:
It’s like a handful of radium—a brilliance you would never imagine.
Of course, not every word can be the perfect word. Not every room overlooks the river. There are thousands of ordinary words that make up a book, just as in an army there are many ordinary soldiers and occasional heroes. But there should not be wrong words or words that degrade the sentence or page. You have to have a taste for what you’re writing. You have to be able to recognize when it’s gone bad.
About The Art of Fiction by James Salter
As the first Kapnick Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia, James Salter delivered these three lectures (The Art of Fiction) just months before his passing: “The Art of Fiction,” “Writing Novels,” and “Life into Art.” Now compiled in this book, readers will be inspired and heartened by Salter’s candid thoughts on the inevitable rejection, criticism, and struggle with best practices that accompany the writer’s life. Salter also shares the books and authors that informed him throughout the years, and his personal beliefs in the value of the written word.
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As a writer of fiction I especially like the line, “Not every room overlooks the river.” I suppose that poetry is the place where every room must have an engaging view.