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IMAGE Free Dental Clinic in Lincroft on Thursday, Oct. 23
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
LINCROFT, NJ - The 8th Annual Dentistry From the Heart free dental clinic will be hosted by Newman Spring Dental Care in Lincroft.  The free... Read More...
Holmdel Man Admits Conspiracy to Steal $100,000 Worth of Water
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
NEWARK, NJ—The owner of Reliable Wood Products (Reliable Wood) today admitted his role in a conspiracy to steal at least $100,000 worth of water... Read More...
Monmouth University Debate Team Makes it to Playoff Round at West Point Military Academy
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
West Long Branch, N.J. - The Monmouth University Debate Team made it into the playoff round at the West Point Military Academy tournament this... Read More...
IMAGE National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month 2014
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
PHOTO: Loving Kim is one of the adorable dogs available at the Monmouth County SPCA. Help Dogs go Home for the Holidays Eatontown, NJ - The Monmouth... Read More...
Experience Matters More than Age with Young-Adult Driver Safety
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
AAA Foundation Research Suggests States Could Reduce Crashes by Extending GDL Requirements Hamilton, NJ – Experience behind the wheel may... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE Review - The Skeleton Twins
by David Prown
Sunday, 19 October 2014
Recently a good friend shared that she was very amped up to see the new movie "The Skeleton Twins" playing at the Bow Tie in Red Bank. She is a big... Read More...
IMAGE Halloween Special Feature: Remembering Hans Holzer’s Paranormal Investigations in NJ (Part I)
by Dennis
Sunday, 19 October 2014
When it came to ghosts, ghouls, and stories from beyond the grave, few spoke as authoritatively as the late Dr. Hans Holzer. The Austrian-born... Read More...
IMAGE Who Put a Silver Bracelet on a Bird?
by Joe Reynolds
Saturday, 18 October 2014
As autumn progresses around New York Harbor (including the lower reaches of Sandy Hook Bay and Raritan Bay), royalty has returned to our sandy... Read More...
IMAGE Individualism and Group Activities Reconsidered
by George Hancock-Stefan
Friday, 17 October 2014
A short while ago, one of the high school students in my church told me that she hates group projects.  She finished her part already, but... Read More...
IMAGE Henry Hudson Tri-District Education Foundation to Support STEM and Athletic Programs
by Jack Archibald
Friday, 17 October 2014
In the competitive landscape of education, today’s students need every advantage to get ahead.  There are many things that factor into a... Read More...

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James Salter's first novel in almost 40 years has been praised widely by critics and readers. His protagonist, Phillip Bowman, is a young man who serves as a navigation officer in the Pacific during World War II. When the war ends, he returns home searching for a career and a wife. He finds the first as a a book editor for a publishing house. The happy marriage proves more difficult.. He meets and marries Vivian Amussen, a wealthy and privileged girl from Virginia. But there are strains in their marriage from the start, the least of which is the vast difference in their families and upbringings. As Phillip navigates the years after the war, he struggles to find a relationship that will last and a place for himself in a rapidly changing world.

While this is advertised as Bowman's story, it is not quite that simple. It is more an exploration of a whole world of characters. Bowman will disappear for pages at a time, only to be picked up again as if  there was no break. Characters are introduced and followed for a page or two, never to be seen again. This is both fascinating and frustrating. Salter creates a world of really interesting characters and I often found myself so intrigued by an auxiliary character that I was disappointed when they did not appear again. But this creates a disconnect for the reader with Bowman himself. It's hard to connect with a protagonist who is frequently absent and often the least interesting of the bunch. 

 

Salter is often noted as writing beautifully simple prose. He excels at writing sentences that manage to be bare and simple while holding great depth and grace."Day was rising, a pale Pacific dawn that had no real horizon with the tops of the early clouds gathering light. The sea was empty. Slowly the sun appeared, flooding across the water and turning it white."

 

But the lovely writing doesn't cover some of the book's flaws. Throughout the novel, Bowman acts with no consideration for other people. This doesn't change as time goes on, despite the many failed relationships that litter the story. This gives a stagnant feeling to All That Is. This seems to be an intentional decision on Salter's part, but it gives a weight to the story that makes it difficult to keep reading with enthusiasm. This novel is also decidedly male in that the women in it are more plot points than characters. They are not developed in any meaningful way because Bowman (and Salter) will use them for a few pages and then dispose of them. 

All That Is was lauded as a return of a very talented author. Unfortunately, this collection of one man's conquests and failures without much introspection or change doesn't match the excitement this book generated. 

 

All That Is

By James Salter

Alfred A Knopf April 2013

ISBN 1400043131