James Salter's new book is All That Is, his first novel since the late 1970s. The book details the life, loves, and losses of a naval veteran who served in WWII and who became a book editor after the war, when publishing was a more genteel pursuit.
From his Q & A with Laurie Gold at Publishers Weekly:
What was the impetus for this book?--Marshal Zeringue
It was a period I wanted to write about—after the war. Publishing in an era that’s now past, a much more leisurely era. Business was conducted by mail. Everything was letters back and forth, so the entire pace of writing was different. It was in an era, of course, long before cell phones and faxes; the relationship between editors and writers was a little more intimate. Books were sold in bookstores. There were no big retailers. There was no Amazon. The whole scale of life was completely different. You could compare it to town life as against city life. The publishers, as I remember at the very beginning of my career, wrote letters with their fountain pens. A letter is different from a phone call or fax. It’s a different kind of intimacy. That pervaded the entire business of writing and publishing. The humanity of it was much more evident. You had writers sleeping on couches in the publishers’ offices... Faulkner was correcting his proofs on a table in the hallway. It was the family doctor as opposed to the way you encounter medicine today. Intimacy and a certain dignity. I don’t mean that’s absent now. But it’s under pressure. And the scale of publishing is different. The...[read on]