Ah, the great James Salter has died. In his 90 years he wrote a lot and edited a lot. Among all of his books, A Sport and a Pastime stands out. Salter wrote this book in 1967, and it takes place in France in the early 1960s. The book stands out not because of the perfect sentences and spot-on descriptions (Salter always has those) but because of the narrator: totally unreliable. The third-party observer of a racy affair admits that a lot of it is his own fantasy. The unnamed narrator imagines what the life an American man, Philip Dean, and a French girl, Anne-Marie, is really like. His imagination takes over. What's so attractive about this novel is that we all have a curiosity like the narrator's: we see people in love--happy and enjoying themselves--and we wonder what that reality is like. Salter was also a master of the short story: many times ending in a way that was more tragic than not. He seemed to romanticize the ugliness and celebrate the simple pleasures. I saw him read/talk at the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan last year, and he was intelligently frank about his writing and his work. He was a man of routine, discipline, and immense celebration.