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AHH 24-Hr. News

Cheaper Crude and Winter-Blends Mean Less Expensive Gas for Motorists
Friday, 19 September 2014
The Week Monday marked the beginning of the yearly transition to winter-blended fuel.  Starting on September 15, retailers can begin selling a... Read More...
IMAGE Guilty Plea in Fatal Fort Plains Road Crash
Friday, 19 September 2014
Fatal Crash Took the Life of One Passenger, Injured Another FREEHOLD, NJ -  A Howell man pleaded guilty Friday afternoon to charges related to... Read More...
IMAGE Holmdel Man Sentenced to Two Years Probation for Secretly Recording Women
Friday, 19 September 2014
Man Admitted in June He Secretly Used Cellphone to Record Under Victim’s Skirts FREEHOLD, NJ - A Holmdel man who admitted earlier this year he... Read More...
Stolen Immigration Forms Used to Obtain NJ Driver's Licenses
Friday, 19 September 2014
NEWARK, NJ—A former contract employee for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was sentenced today to 26 months in prison for stealing... Read More...
FilmOneFest Movie Premier – Meet the Young Cast Members from Infinitely Polar Bear
Friday, 19 September 2014
Atlantic Highlands, NJ - On September 21 at 2pm, the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council’s FilmOneFest presents Infinitely Polar Bear, starring Mark... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE Living in the Daily Tensions
by George Hancock-Stefan
Friday, 19 September 2014
I am currently reading the book of the great prophet Jeremiah. He lived in the time when the Babylonians conquered the nation of Israel.  While... Read More...
IMAGE Skewed View - September 19, 2014
by Tom Brennan
Friday, 19 September 2014
Woman gets outbid on her "dream home" turns it into a nightmare as she plays pranks on the couple who outbid her.  http://abcn.ws/YRFfKS... Read More...
IMAGE The Secret of Old Age
by Anne Mikolay
Thursday, 18 September 2014
Facebook is a playground for adults. You can find pretty much anything there. While some folks share political commentary, others post inspirational... Read More...
IMAGE Romney Seems Ready for Another Run
by Dennis
Thursday, 18 September 2014
For the past several weeks, the media and the Republican Party have been abuzz with talk related to a most unexpected of topics: former Massachusetts... Read More...
IMAGE Uncertain Trumpet-Call
by Woody Zimmerman
Tuesday, 16 September 2014
On the idle hill of summer,Sleepy with the flow of streams,Far I hear the steady drummerDrumming like a noise in dreams.Far and near and low and... 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