James Salter, who died Friday at 90, had a small but exquisite literary output, earning him distinction as a contemporary American master. Salter long craved but never achieved widespread popularity, settling instead for critical acclaim and praise from a small, admiring audience. This writer’s writer had been one of the last great living American postwar novelists. He wrote so scrupulously, his sentences so carefully crafted, that fellow novelist Richard Ford came to say: ‘It is an article of faith among readers of fiction that James Salter writes American sentences better than anybody writing today.’ Salter wrote his first novel, ‘The Hunters’ (1956) when he was an Air Force fighter pilot. He flew in the Korean War alongside the astronaut Buzz Aldrin — the second man to walk on the moon. Although the book, written between dogfights with Chinese fighter jets in Korea, was

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