Light Years

Narrated by: Mark Boyett
Length: 10 hrs and 18 mins
4 out of 5 stars (94 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

This exquisite, resonant novel by PEN/Faulkner winner James Salter is a brilliant portrait of a marriage by a contemporary American master. It is the story of Nedra and Viri, whose favored life is centered around dinners, ingenious games with their children, enviable friends, and near-perfect days passed skating on a frozen river or sunning on the beach. But even as he lingers over the surface of their marriage, Salter lets us see the fine cracks that are spreading through it, flaws that will eventually mar the lovely picture beyond repair. Seductive, witty, and elegantly nuanced, Light Years is a classic novel of an entire generation that discovered the limits of its own happiness - and then felt compelled to destroy it.

©1975 James Salter (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    39
  • 4 Stars
    36
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    2

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    47
  • 4 Stars
    21
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    30
  • 4 Stars
    32
  • 3 Stars
    18
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Elegant and elusive

I understand why other writers prize James Salters as a novelist. His scenes are vivid, evocative, and also oblique. There is a fascinating combination of detail given and fact withheld. Like Proust, he tells you a lot--but leaves out a lot as well. His prose recreates the feeling of certain friendships: colorful and engaging in the moment, and then somewhat puzzling in the aftermath. Yet the characters take on so much life in Salter's masterful hands. I greatly enjoyed "Light Years": arty but not arch, poetic but not self-indulgent--nothing goes on too long, everything proportionate. And no one writes similes like Salter. I reveled in it, but readers who are in search of straightforward, page-turning narrative could get frustrated This is literary fiction of the highest quality.
The narrator Mark Boyett, is very good in all the important ways--his rhythm is just right, he evokes the different characters (with their many foreign accents) nicely, and he doesn't moon over the lyrical sections. My only gripe is that he mispronounces foreign words from time to time, a pet peeve of mine: he says "restina" for "retsina," for example, puts the wrong accent on the Italian word "facile..." You get the picture. It's a small blemish on a fine achievement. Boyett found the right tonality for this delicate novel, which I would not have thought conducive to an audiobook.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Old school unabashed alpha male

What made the experience of listening to Light Years the most enjoyable?

I love the spare writing style and the unabashed view into the mind of an uncompromised alpha male. It's a rare thing in good literature. Acceptable in MadMen days, but cowed in our age of gender equality. Glad that there is equality, but men and women are NOT the same.

What about Mark Boyett’s performance did you like?

He reflected the personality of the main character very well.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Unfathomable Font of Blue: Life's Serial Goodbyes

This one hit home hard. I identified closely with the core of the male character, but I loved it most for its gorgeous profundity. The novel brims with such eloquence on both feeling life's emptiness of meaning and in appealing to life's abundance.

Salter does his damnedest (likely the best I've read) in beautifully depicting the depths of sadness that spring from life's fountain of serial goodbyes, in their many variations: from parents, from loves, from marriage, from children leaving the nest, from friends, from a time and a place and a family in years full of light, and, finally, from life.

Such poignance:

he was **reaching that age, at the edge of it, when the world suddenly becomes more beautiful, when it reveals itself in a special way, in every detail, roof and wall, in the leaves of trees fluttering faintly before a rain, the world was opening itself, as if to allow, now that life was shortening, one long passionate look, and all that had been withheld would finally be given.**

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not my favorite purchase, not my worse...

Story was well written, but it bore me at times. Wasn't excited to find out the end. It took me a while to finish.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A story of ordinary unhappiness

The book covers most of the life of Nedra and Ivri, a middle-class suburban couple with two children. They go through life withouth true values, intimacy and any deep sense of realities. There are hopes (no true passions) and rather trivial dreams (traveling to Europe, glamour , wealth, the sexy secretary..) ; their life fades away and ends almost like a candle that has burned out in the dark. Beautifully written, but unengaging , sad and,at times , almost boring.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Salter's fine poetic prose

IA beautiful melancholy novel of a certain time and place, well read. The portrait's are intimate, the mood languorous and the sense of time feels wonderfully real.

The title is perfect: one travels at the speed of light through the full arcs of exquisitely described lives, all the while seeming to moving in slow motion, captivated by minutiae.

Some of the most wonderful sentences in the English language are here.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful story!

The characters are rich, the friends many, description of every day life of a family. The ending was sad.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for nigeyb
  • nigeyb
  • 01-19-20

Hard work but ultimately worth it

I struggle with books in which the point more about “the beautiful writing” and less about the plot.

Light Years (1975) by James Salter is the story of a marriage between two Americans, the Berlands: Nedra (the woman) and Viri (the man). Viri was born in 1928 and Nedra a few years later which made me wonder if they had renamed themselves, or if two sets of American parents were giving their kids such unusual names in that era? Other characters have names like Franca, Jivan, Kaya, Arnauld, and Hadji (this one a dog).

The Berlands are part of an arty, intellectual, somewhat pretentious, tortured, affluent and self absorbed crowd many of whom are in a permanent state of dissatisfaction. Do these people really exist anywhere outside of imagination?

Viri is haunted by the fear of obscurity and failure. Nedra dreads age, poverty, and ordinariness. The couple and their friends have no apparent financial concerns and it is unclear how Viri’s work as an architect funds such a relatively opulent and leisurely lifestyle for the couple, and their family and friends.

Light Years covers almost twenty years. At the start Nedra is 28 and by the conclusion she is 47 years old. The passage of time is one of the novel’s motifs.

The plot, such as it is, was slightly puzzling. Nedra and Viri live a charmed and good life, complete with two lovely daughters, a dog, and a vibrant social life yet, enjoying a lovely rural environment just outside New York and yet, before you know it, they’re both being unfaithful, and eventually they split up.

A preponderance of four and five star reviews on Amazon and GoodReads is testimony to this book’s appeal for many readers who are in thrall Salter’s beautiful writing. In reality his writing is over laden with metaphors, similes, and analogies, aligned to a meandering plot

I found it an uneven read. I was compelled to stick with it as I was reading it for my book group. Actually I was listening to it, which meant I was able to speed up the excellent narration to get through it more quickly.

The ending is poignant and profound, and this made me reevaluate the novel and increase my provisional rating. It certainly picked up in the final section and this part was interesting and satisfying.

3/5

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for BJD
  • BJD
  • 05-16-19

The real thing

Just a joy from start to finish. Beautifully written and beautifully read. Moving and funny and memorable. I listened to it and went straight back and listened again.

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jeff
  • Jeff
  • 05-22-18

A very boring book

I stopped reading after 7 chapters. It’s full of very long-winded descriptions, but light on the narrative. On the positive side, it’s good for insomniacs.