"Life is composed of certain basic elements,” he says.
“Of course, there are a lot of impurities, that’s what’s misleading.”
“What I’m saying may sound mystical, but in everybody, in all of us, there’s the desire to find those elements somehow, to discover them, you know? Sometimes I think they’re the same for all of us, but maybe they’re not. I mean we look at the Greeks and say, ah, they built this civilization, this whole brilliant world, out of certain simple things. Why can’t we? And if not a civilization, why can’t each of us, properly directed, build a life, I mean a happy life? Believe me, the elements exist. When you enter certain rooms, when you look at certain faces, suddenly you realize you’re in the presence of them. Do you know what I mean?”
“Of course I do,” she says. “If you could achieve that, you’d have everything.”
“And without it you have…” he shrugs, “a life.”
“Just like everybody’s,” he says.
“I don’t want that.”
“Neither do I."
James Salter, A Sport and a Pastime
#a sport and a pastime
"One day the phone rang, and I said “Hello.” And a voice said, “Yes, hello, this is George Plimpton.” He said, “You know, I have your novel, and I really like it, I like it very much. We’d like to publish it.” At that time, The Paris Review had a small book publishing operation, they had published a handful of books. He said, “We’d like to publish it.” I said, “That’s wonderful.” He said, “Yes. But there is just one thing.” “Yes.” He said, “I don’t think that any really good novels are written in the first person.” Of course, my mind went blank. I couldn’t think of anything. I didn’t know what to say to him except, suddenly it occurred to me, a book really far removed from the book we were talking about, that was the only thing I could think of, I said, “Well, what about All Quiet on the Western Front,” and he said, “Yes, I suppose you’re right.” That was the end of the editing."
#the paris review