A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter
There is a mole on a young, French girl’s neck and she works in a patisserie. It’s all conjecture in the mind of the narrator who sits across from her on the train. Yet we see it and know it. Of course she works in a patisserie. She couldn’t possibly work anywhere else. The utterly new familiarity—of skin, cows, train windows, small black shoes--the sense that we always knew what things were yet never knew how to name them, propels this great, small book. Salter’s is an unusual, aesthetic reverie that elegantly compiles, simple layer upon layer until his vision achieves profundity. He’s daunting and inspiring, capturing the lush and fleeting sensation of experience. Reading him we are made richer, our own surroundings suddenly more elegant and meaningful.