In Don’t Save Anything, despite its paradoxical title, Kay Eldredge Salter assembles her late husband’s bread-and-butter journalism — yet how delicious good bread and butter can be! ... As always, Salter emphasizes simple, vivifying details. To understand the challenge of ascending the vertical rock face of Yosemite’s El Capitan, 'Imagine a wall more than twice as high as the Empire State Building.' Describing a hospital lab technician, he writes, 'She has blond hair and the decent, American face of a girl in the emergency room who is there when your eyes open and you love her from then on.'”
The pieces range widely, though Salter’s distinctive sensibility and his elegant yet muscular prose help unite them. He writes from a perspective that combines the passionate enthusiasm of seemingly perpetual youth with a knowingness that flirts with but never quite collapses into world-weariness or cynical disappointment, as if always judging things by a mildly anachronistic, honor-based code — masculine, austere and vaguely Apollonian ... Salter’s sensibility is baldly and unashamedly masculine; one does not go to his writings to discover the female perspective on things, and anyone who approaches an essay like 'Younger Women, Older Men' hoping that the the sexism suggested by its title will be subverted in what follows will be disappointed ... Don’t Save Anything does not rise to the level of those astonishing novels, but it rises higher than one would expect. Posthumously assembled collections are usually disappointing and often superfluous. This book is neither; its every page offers pleasure, the profound, joyful pleasure of watching a masterful writer at work.
The subject matter will be familiar to his readers: the stern ethos of military life, the equally stern imperatives of literature, the exhilarating rigors of extreme sport, the civilized joys of France, good times and changing times in Aspen, complex sexual and emotional negotiations between men and women ...Salter’s attitude toward women generally, an aspect of this beautifully written and generally appealing anthology likely to make many readers squirm ...faint note of regret is unmistakable and several italicized passages... There’s much to admire in the values Salter conveys with such lucidity in his work and in the unflinchingly honesty with which he voices more tangled, less admirable feelings ...the product of his personal background and his historical moment, which come alive for better and worse in this evocative, sometimes maddening collection.