James Salter had written two novels, The Hunters and The Arm of Flesh, but it was his third, remarkable novel, A Sport and a Pastime, together with his film Three and a script he had written for Downhill Racer, that in 1969 elicited a letter of admiration from a writer and critic he did not know–Robert Phelps. The correspondence that resulted went on to span two decades. The letters themselves are exceptionally alive, uninhibited, gossipy, touching, and brilliant. The success of Salter and the struggles of Phelps are fully explored by the writers themselves in an honest exchange only letters can divulge. Along with an insightful foreword by Michael Dirda, this book gives voice to a nearly forgotten figure and his friendship with a man he admired.
The Selected Letters of James Salter and Robert Phelps
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JAMES SALTER grew up in New York City and was a career officer and Air Force pilot until his mid-thirties, when the success of his first novel (The Hunters, 1957) led to a fulltime writing career. He is the author of several other novels, including The Arm of Flesh, Solo Faces, A Sport and a Pastime, and Light Years, as well as a memoir, Burning the Days. His collection of short fiction Dusk and Other Stories was awarded the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988.