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Solo Faces: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

James Salter
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Solo Faces contrasts a devotion to mountain climbing with the earthbound tugs of love and ordinary life . . . A beautifully composed book that will remind readers of Camus and Saint-Exupéry. It exemplifies the purity it describes.” —The Washington Post
Vernon Rand is a charismatic figure whose great love—whose life, in fact—is climbing. He lives alone in California, where he combats the drudgery of a roofing job with the thrill of climbing in the nearby mountain ranges. Sure of only his talent and nerve, Rand decides to test himself in the French Alps, with their true mountaineering and famed, fearsome peaks. He soon learns that the most perilous moments are, for him, the moments when he feels truly alive.
One of the great novels of the outdoors, Solo Faces is as thrilling, beautiful, and immediate as the Alpine peaks that have enthralled climbers for centuries.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of James Salter including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.

Editorial Reviews


“A terrific novel. Compelling, sad, wise, and kindhearted. Mr. Salter’s prose is rare and stunning . . .” —John Irving
“One of the few novels I have read that captures the genuine feel of climbing. Complex and sophisticated.” —A. Alvarez, author of Feeding the Rat
“This is a beautiful, sad, even tragic novel about the ways men test themselves and the reason they do it.” —The Boston Globe

About the Author

James Salter (b. 1925) is a novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. Salter grew up in New York City and was a career officer and Air Force pilot until his mid-thirties, when the success of his first novel (The Hunters, 1957) led to his fulltime writing career. Salter’s potent, lyrical prose has earned him acclaim from critics, readers, and fellow novelists. His novel A Sport and a Pastime (1967) was hailed by the New York Times as “nearly perfect as any American fiction.” He lives in New York with his family.

Product Details

  • File Size: 736 KB
  • Print Length: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (June 5, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0081YPLXI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,139 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ironies of lonely heroism July 30, 2002
James Salter's novel tells the story of Rand, a solitary man in his late 20s, with a fatal attraction to mountain climbing. We meet him on a hot, hazy day doing a roofing job on a church in Los Angeles. Quiet, focused, he watches warily the heedless young man working with him and then catches him just in the last moment as he falls from the roof. This same drama plays out again later in the novel, as Rand saves the lives of other mountain climbers, high in the French Alps, in wintry, bone chilling conditions.
One case of heroics makes him a media celebrity, and for a time he is an American in Paris enjoying his 15 minutes of fame. But the time passes, and he returns again to the austere, stoic life of a climber, growing older, with no assets, no home, no one who will love him on his own terms. He has only his desire to continue climbing and the need to take ever greater risks. Emptied of every other need, his lonely heroism is an ironic portrayal of the individual who strives against all odds to achieve impossible goals.
Salter's writing style is crystal clear, always vivid. He tries for no special effects, just a precise choice of words, sentence after sentence, and an unblinking eye for detail. If you have the slightest trepidation about heights, the descriptions of the climbs make your heart race. Master of his matter-of-fact style, Salter moves beyond emotion and the romance of adventure to capture the excitement of being fully in the present moment and intensely alive.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best fictional work "on" mountaineering? May 28, 1998
What makes SOLO FACES such a good read is, in part, 1) Salter's lean, understated, "honest" style, 2) his concern for all his characters, and 3) his ability to write about climbing intelligently without overdoing it. As far as I know, no novelist but Salter has pulled #3 off successfully. The novel is based (more or less) on the life of Gary Hemming (Rand in the book), who made a heroic rescue of two German climbers (Italians in the book) who were stranded on the daunting face of the Dru. Rand is a believable character: humble and shy, but confident and unable (or unwilling) to develop attachments to the various women that shuffle in and out of his life. I did not love the book's final chapter, which seems too obscure and unsatisfying. But maybe I just didn't get it. All in all, this is a very fine novel by one of our most underread writers.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A View from the Top of the World October 18, 2001
This great book by Salter who has authored many great books may just be his best. The book is about rock climbing. That sport is the most extreme of the extreme sports but also the most solitary and therefore most spiritual and lyrical as it is so often done alone and any mistake is almost certainly a fatal one. The book begins on the top of a church in L.A. where our main character Rand is doing yet another impermanent odd job in an equally impermanent location repairing roofs for a summer, a situation that allows him to retain his most cherished possession, his freedom. And the ultimate expression of that freedom is climbing. Nothing holds Rand for long, no place and no woman, and so very soon in the novel he is off to the Swiss and French Alps, locations of some of the most heralded peaks including the sheer faced obelisks, the Eiger and the Dru. The book is full of climbing lore(including one mountain rescue based in fact) and that great theme of man versus nature as well as the writing style recalls Conrad and Hemingway. Salters sense of adventure as well as his aptitude to tell a story perfectly recalls both authors, but he has his own style and what he does with this adventure tale is completely his own. Salter shows the great romantic appeal of his hero Rand and he also shows the singular nature of such a character and how a life dedicated to legendary feats and life-in-peril daring can leave a man at some remove from others. The minor characters include climbing friends and the various women involved in Rand's love affairs. Though each of them a brief episode only the love episodes are poignant as they more than any other part of the book show how unreachably alone romantic Rand really is. Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quest for inner strength and satisfaction March 21, 1997
By A Customer
The saga of a man who feels restrained by conventions and flat ground. Unable to find peace in the heights of his job as a roofer of churches he travels to southern France to assault the Alps. Climbing alone he negotiates the granite faces of the mountains until he takes on their majestic qualities himself. When a friend is trapped on the mountain, he makes a daring one man rescue during a storm that brings him the notice he has always shunned. But glory is fleeting and he returns to the anonymity he prefers having satisfied the only person of importance in his life, himself. This superbly written prose includes a description of being struck by lightning that is so vivid that you feel it. Salter is without question one of America's great writers and this is one of his best
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Individual Again February 12, 2001
The first novel I read by Mr. Salter was, "The Hunters", which while deemed a novel was the result of his experiences as a combat pilot in Korea. In, "Solo Faces", he again describes an activity that ultimately is as lonely as being the sole occupant of a fighter aircraft. The primary difference would appear to be that climbing and all the danger involved, no matter how compulsive the desire to do it, is voluntary. It is true that in both instances there is a measure of safety, the climber is roped to another; on belay his safety in the hands of another. In Korea his character would have a wingman that was never to leave him, again was his measure of protection. Climbing partners fall, wingmen get shot down, ultimately the pilot and the climber are alone.
Again he explores the human motivation of those who climb, the less savory aspects of fellow climbers and the horrific results that can occur. The circle is expanded this time as more space is given to the effect the activity has on those who the climber is personally involved with, who cares about his health. Again the pilot was at war, he was not voluntarily flying dozens and dozens of missions. The climber is where he is by choice, so the fear and concern the activities generate may have similar names, but what catalyzes the emotions is fundamentally different.
Mr. Salter's writing is an amazing study of people. He certainly selects an environment that causes a description of what they do and why they do it to be appropriate. For me in these first two novels it is the people you remember more than the circumstances. It is not that the stories lack strength, quite the contrary; his people are just so fascinating.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting story
The English Observer featured James Salter as a very good story teller. I picked Solo Faces to learn if it was so. Yes! Read more
Published 2 months ago by George W. Steed
5.0 out of 5 stars stunning
Salter! Every time I read him I'm stunned. His sentences are breathtaking. A beautiful haunting novel about solitude and obsession.
Published 3 months ago by Panio
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Writing
It really captures a time and place so well. Read Alter's other stuff if you want more of the same.

It's like reading a beautifully taken photograph.
Published 4 months ago by Mark
5.0 out of 5 stars What can I say? Salter at his best
The first Salter book I read I felt he captured military life better than anyone I'd ever read. Since he served in the Air Force in Korea a great achievement, but not amazing. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Embarrassed Scientist
4.0 out of 5 stars Read Salter
I would give anything written by Salter at least 4 stars! Five stars are still reserved for A Sport and a Pasttime
Published 5 months ago by Janelle Barrera
5.0 out of 5 stars Everest junkies
Better than sports hiking
This is fine literary story-dreamlike in the telling. Excellent job whether you're armchair ascending for the first or fiftieth time
Published 6 months ago by Love to Receive Packages
5.0 out of 5 stars Hemingway on climbing
If you like Hemingway, I think you'll like Salter. The topic for this particular novel, alpine climbing, was one that fits well with his lyrical style. Read more
Published 7 months ago by MCS
5.0 out of 5 stars True depiction
Excellent prose style with compelling characters, makes for an accurate glimpse into the solace of wild places that a certain type of man feels he must explore.
Published 10 months ago by bozatwork
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Writing
Again, not much of a plot from Mr. Salter, but vivid writing carries the day. It's like you're on the mountain.
Published 10 months ago by William Edwin Caulder
4.0 out of 5 stars This guy can write!
Beautifully written. You savour a descriptive phrase & smile. How do they write like this? Salter gets right into the fear & ecstasy of mountain climbing. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
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