Jesuachristo, the prose! More than any other writer I have read, Salter could do so much with so little. He has a scalpel-like precision with his prose — it is always just enough, nothing more. Quite a few writers should read Salter if for no other reason than studying how a few simply crafted sentences can say more than endless flowery paragraphs that serve more as literary gymnastics than good writing. The opening chapters of A Sport and a Pastime, where the narrator is travelling via train through the French countryside, read like a Van Gogh painting.
“Canals, rich as jade, pass beneath us, canals in which wide barges lie. The water is green with scum. One could almost write on the surface.
Hayfields in long, rectangular patterns. There are hills now, not very high. Poplars. Empty soccer fields. Montereau — a boy on a bicycle waiting near the station. There are churches with weathervanes. Smalls streams with rowboats moored beneath the trees…. The pattern of fields is passing, some pale as bread, others sea-dark.”