Burning the Days: Recollection
"Burning the Days" captures a singular life, beginning with a Manhattan boyhood and then, satisfying his father's wishes, graduation from West Point, followed by service in the Air Force as a pilot. In some of the most evocative pages ever written about flying, Salter describes the exhilaration and terror of combat as a fighter pilot in the Korean War, scenes that are balanced by haunting pages of love and a young man's passion for women. After resigning from the Air Force, Salter begins a second life, becoming a writer in the New York of the '60s. Soon films beckon. There are vivid portraits of actors, directors, and producers -- Polanski, Redford, and others. Here also, more important, are writers who were influential, some by their character, like Irwin Shaw, others because of their taste and knowledge.Ultimately "Burning the Days" is an illumination of what it is to be a man, and what it means to become a writer.Only once in a long while--Vladimir Nabokov's "Speak, MemoryOut of Africa" --does a memoir of such extraordinary clarity and power appear. Unconventional in form, "Burning the Days" is a stunning achievement.