By People Staff
October 13, 1997 12:00 PM

by James Salter

At the heart of James Salter’s memoir is the experience of flight: the combat missions Salter flew as a pilot in the Korean War, his stint with the Air Force in Germany and Morocco, near misses and emergency landings, the deaths of friends and comrades. Around those soaring, lyrical passages—the most beautifully written in the book—Salter clusters his memories of an eventful life: his Manhattan boyhood, his education at West Point, his career as a novelist and screenwriter, his flirtation with expatriate glamor in Paris and Rome, his meetings with remarkable men and seductive women. There’s a lovely, old-fashioned gallantry to these recollections of an era when men were men and beautiful women were girls and all of them drank without guilt—and when military service (or the lack of it) defined one’s relation to manhood. As in Salter’s lapidary fiction, much here is suffused with a fine haze of nostalgia for youth, and for a time when life seemed as exhilarating and clear as the air at 30,000 feet. (Random House, $24)