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The Paris Review Hadada Award 2011

abstract:Fans of The Paris Review are rewarded each quarter with a new edition of works selected by the editors that introduce us to unknown and established authors alike. They also give out annual awards and prizes to writers at both ends of the spectrum: The Plimpton Prize (honors The Paris Review's longtime editor, George Plimpton, who presided over the magazine for fifty years, until his death in September 2003) is awarded to the best piece of fiction by a newcomer to appear in The Paris Review that year. The Hadada is awarded annually to a distinguished member of the literary community who has demonstrated a strong and unique commitment to literature. Past Hadada statues (a bronze replica of the Paris Review's iconic bird) have been given to John Ashbery, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, Barney Rosset, and William Styron. Last year went to Philip Roth. Drum roll please... This year it goes to James Salter.

James Salter is an American novelist and screenwriter born in NYC June 10th, 1925. That makes him 86 years old with a lifetime of literary contributions drawn from his formative years, twelve of which were spent serving as a fighter pilot in the Korean theatre on 100 missions flying the F-86 Sabre in the renowned Mig-fighting unit. He used his Korean experience for his first novel, The Hunters (1956), which was made into a film starring Robert Mitchum in 1958 and re-published under the title Cassada. His 1961 novel The Arm of Flesh drew on his experiences flying with the 36th Fighter-Day Wing at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, between 1954 and 1957.

His writerly style was influenced by Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Andre Guide and Thomas Wolfe. "Widely regarded as one of the most artistic writers of modern American fiction, Salter himself is critical of his own work, having said that only his 1967 novel A Sport and a Pastime comes close to living up to his standards. Set in post-war France, Sport And A Pastime is a piece of erotica involving an American student and a young French girl, told as flashbacks in the present tense by an unnamed narrator who barely knows the student and who himself yearns for the girl, and who freely admits that most of his narration is fantasy." —Wikipedia

His introduction to Hollywood was for a production featuring the young actor, Robert Redford in "Downhill Racer" about a competive ski racer. Here is a excellent link dedicated to that 1969 film production with video clips of both the film and an older Redford talking about its making. My friends and colleagues in Whistler involved in skiing and filmmaking and film festival organization will be interested in the lessons here-in.


April 15, 2011
— Eventually he began work on his memoir. The Paris Review provided an excellent glimpse into Salter's personal writing space and his technique:

Salter writes in a study on the second floor, a small, airy room with a peaked ceiling and a half-moon window. His desk is a large wooden country-trestle table made of old pine. Everywhere there are telltale signs of the memoir he has been working on for the past years—envelopes that have been scrawled on, scraps of paper that have been entirely covered with his minute handwriting. On the morning that I was left alone in the study I found well-thumbed copies of Nabokov’s Speak, Memory and Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa resting on a map of France with places circled and marked. I discovered an aeronautical chart, a sheaf of twelve extremely detailed pages of notes in red, blue, and black ink, a journal from 1955 with the sentence written across the front: “Every year seems the most terrible.” On the small wooden table next to the desk lay a group of cahiers, little soft-covered gray-numbered notebooks, each containing a possible chapter of the memoir. These homemade workbooks are dense with notes—the author’s instructions to himself, quotations from other writers, entries that have been color-coded for the place where they might be used. “Life passes into pages if it passes into anything,” Salter has written, and to read through these notes is to reconfirm what one knew all along: how meticulously each of his pages is written, how scrupulously each of his chapters constructed. Everything is checked and rechecked, written and revised and then revised again until the prose shimmers, radiant and indestructible.

Paris Review Interviews: The Art of Fiction with James Salter.

For a in depth video interview of James Salter I recommend viewing this Charlie Rose segment.



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