My initial reaction reading Salter's masterful memoir was sadness. Sadness for his family--for his wife and children who merit only a few scattered sentences and references throughout the tome.
To me this is a shame.
Salter displays such prowess in his powers of recollection--he doesn't just recall a lifetime of events, he captures the atmosphere, the heartache, the lust, the despair felt in those events...about everyone except his wives or children. Now perhaps this is just a protective mechanism to shield his family from public scrutiny--but Salter hardly seems to be someone reticent to expose the inner drama of his life. Anyway, my own desire for a man to prioritize his family is no reason to fault his story but I felt I should say this since this isn't a book review--it's my family blog.
Ultimately Burning the Days is not a memoir about anyone but Salter and his own quest (or pursuit) of immortality. One must credit Salter for his sincerity in laying bare his peccadillos, his valleys and his peaks but most of all for his outsized power in description--there's no author who does in better today. My favorite part of this book, however, are his descriptions of favorite books and authors--I added about 10 new books to my Amazon wish list!
Here's Salter on happiness:
When was I happiest, the happiest in my life? Difficult to say. Skipping the obvious, perhaps setting off on a journey, or returning from one.
Times Links on Salter: