Book//mark – A Sport and a Pastime | James Salter, 1967

A Sport and a Pastime | James Salter, 1967
James Salter (1925-2015)                     James Salter, A Sport and a Pastime, 1967

“One should not believe too strongly in a life which can easily vanish.”

“I see myself as an agent provacateur or as a double agent, first on one side—that of truth—
then on the other, but between these, in the reversals, the sudden defections, one can easily
forget allegiance entirely and feel only the deep, the profound joy of being beyond all
codes, of being completely independent, criminal is the word.”

“Now they are lovers. The first, wild courses are ended.
They have founded their domain. A satanic happiness follows.”

“Certain things I remember exactly as they were. They are merely discolored a bit by time,
like coins in the pocket of a forgotten suit. Most of the details, though, have long since been
transformed or rearranged to bring others of them forward. Some, in fact, are obviously
counterfeit; they are no less important. One alters the past to form the future.”

“One must have heroes, which is to say, one must create them. And they become real
through our envy, our devotion. It is we who give them their majesty, their power, which
ourselves could never possess. And in turn, they give some back. But they are mortal,
these heroes, just as we are. They do not last forever. They fade. They vanish.
They are surpassed, forgotten – one hears of them no more.”

“I feel as if I am entering a grave crisis of the soul.”

“The most devout moments of my life have been spent in bed at night listening to those bells.
They flood over me, drawing me out of myself. I know where I am suddenly; part of this
town and happy. I lean out of the window and am washed by the cool air, air it seems
no one has yet breathed.”

“Great lovers lie in hell, the poet says. Even now, long afterwards, I cannot destroy the images.
They remain within me like the yearnings of an addict. I need only hear certain words, see
certain gestures, and my thoughts begin to tumble. I despise myself for thinking of her.
Even if she were dead, I would feel the same. Her existence blackens my life.”

“I am creating him out of my own inadequacies, you must remember that”

“As I look back, I see that life is like a game of solitaire and every once in a while there is a move.”

“The summer has ended. The garden withers. The mornings become chill.
I am thirty, I am thirty-four–the years turn dry as leaves.”

“As Rilke says, there are no classes for beginners in life,
the most difficult thing is always asked of one right away.”

“There is nothing that is not yours, all I think, all I am able to feel. I am embarrassed only that
I do not know enough. But I don’t care if you never belong to me, I only want to belong to you,
just be hard with me, strict, but don’t leave, just do like if you were with another girl– Please.
I will die otherwise. I understand now that we can die of love.”

James Salter, A Sport and a Pastime, 1967


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