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James Salter Month

Document: An Outline for ‘Light Years’

April 5, 2011 | by

Image courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center. Click to enlarge.

James Salter’s outline for his novel, Light Years, which Jhumpa Lahiri wrote about today. Writes Lahiri, “In the beginning it was the light, the warmth of the novel that enchanted me.” Note how Salter is careful to think of the seasons as he moves through the chapters. At the top of the page, Salter identifies a short list of possible titles for the novel, including The Feast Is Ended, New Life, and New Lives. On the bottom portion of this page, in his notes related to the fifth chapter, Salter writes, Life Is Meals. More than thirty years later, he would repurpose this phrase as the title of his 2006 book, cowritten with his wife, Kay Salter.

The Salter archives reside with the Harry Ransom Center, in Austin Texas.

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  1. [...] the meantime, if you’re a Salter reader, take a look at this document from the Harry Ransom Center at UT–Austin (one of the few physical places that might, for me, [...]

  2. [...] real highlight is the outline of Light Years.  I never tire of snooping into the working methods of novelists I [...]

  3. [...] Picking up where today’s Indexing left off: James Salter’s outline for Light Years. [...]

  4. [...] also highlighting items from Salter’s archive at the Ransom Center, including an outline and title ideas for what would become Salter’s novel Light [...]

  5. [...] come naturally to him, this sideways relationship to time.  When the Paris Review posted a scan of his outline for the first six chapters, it was touching to see his own authorial self-commandments: “Be [...]

  6. [...] of new friendships and awkward social entanglements with Vienot’s guests and relatives. An article in Paris Review decided that I will read Light Years. The article shows Salter’s outline of the novel. I note [...]

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