A tragic and passionate portrayal of human conflict. Obscured by low, brooding clouds, two lost planes drift ominously beyond their landing strip and over the heads of the men below. A former enlisted man fresh out of flying school, Lieutenant Roberto Cassada is the latest arrival in a complacent Air Force squadron in Cold War Germany. From the ...
A tragic and passionate portrayal of human conflict. Obscured by low, brooding clouds, two lost planes drift ominously beyond their landing strip and over the heads of the men below. A former enlisted man fresh out of flying school, Lieutenant Roberto Cassada is the latest arrival in a complacent Air Force squadron in Cold War Germany. From the outset, several characteristics alienate Cassada from the tightly-knit group of men he joins: his mysterious reticence, his Puerto Rican birth, and - most damning of all - his unabashed ambition. In the absence of warfare, Cassada struggles to prove his superiority as a pilot on routine flying procedures, one of which leads to the tragedy at the centre of the novel. Cassada is a reworked version of Salter's The Arm of Flesh, originally published in 1961. Brilliantly paced and deeply haunting, this is a novel that explores the tensions of a group of fighter pilots in conflict with themselves and each other as much as with any enemy.
Publishers Weekly, 2000-11-27 Salter is one of the great writers about flying, and this short novel was revised, at the suggestion of Counterpoint editor Jack Shoemaker, from a book originally called The Arm of Flesh when it was first published nearly 40 years ago. (Salter's first novel, The Hunters, was also revised for republication three years ago.) It is set in Germany a few years after the war, when the U.S. Air Force was still maintaining airfields and flying practice sorties, and when bad weather, particularly heavy cloud and fog, could still cause problems at smaller landing fields. Cassada is a young lieutenant, sent to join the unit at the center of the story, who is determined to be a star in the target gunnery contests in which the pilots indulge, and who in the end is part of a disaster when he and a colleague fly too far and run out of fuel in heavy rain before they can land. Salter's subtle, understated prose has been justly praised, even if at times it hovers perilously close to Hemingway parody, and the best scenes here portray the tensions of the men on the ground as they wait for planes to land safely. Salter's feeling for weather and for the dark mysteries of solitary flight are exemplary, and it is only in the rather mundane scenes of family life on base and the barely hidden rivalries and jealousies that the book is less than compelling. It is certainly worth reading for the frequent pleasures of Salter's writing and for the originality of the setting, but it in no way compares with his brilliant A Sport and a Pastime and Light Years. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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