Some writers have the ability to poison one’s daily existence. James Salter, I have discovered, is one of them. To read him is to be painfully reminded of how mundane, how blurry, how fatally lacking in glamour one’s own life is.Still, if you can hold such feelings at bay, reading him is also an intense pleasure. Salter has written no great novel. But he has written a couple of very good ones, some superb short stories, and an amazing memoir, Burning the Days. His writing is lyrical, dashing, succinct — modelled on Hemingway, but with strains of Fitzgerald, Colette and Cheever. Rich in the kinds of experience most writers lack, Salter’s life feeds into the writing at every point. It makes it incandescent, and gives it credibility, too.