James Salter, who died on June 19, was a novelist and short-story writer whose books included A Sport and a Pastime, Light Years, Dusk and Other ­Stories, and, most recently, All That Is
. (August 2015)

They Began a New Era

Wilbur Wright flying his and Orville Wright’s 1902 glider at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, with the brothers’ camp and shed visible in the distance, 1903
The Wrights’ first aircraft, really a large kite, was made of bamboo and paper and had two wings, one over the other, with struts and crisscross wires connecting them. A system of control cords enabled its flight to be directed from the ground. Although they ended with a crash, the tests were successful, the brothers felt, and the following summer they built a full-sized glider with an eighteen-foot wingspan meant to be flown as a kite and, if that went well, to carry a man.

Bill Styron: The Ups and Downs

William Styron at his house in Roxbury, Connecticut, January 1972
The hundreds of letters written by William Styron, nearly sixty years of them, many quite long, are about such matters as the public apology of Robert McNamara regarding the Vietnam War, capital punishment, the crassness of American culture, politicians, publishers, the books of friends and less-known writers, the ignorance of …

‘The Finest Life You Ever Saw’

Ernest Hemingway, Key West, Florida, circa 1928
Ernest Hemingway, the second oldest of six children, was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1899 and lived until 1961, thus representing the first half of the twentieth century. He more than represented it, he embodied it. He was a national and international hero, and his life was mythic. Though none of his novels is set in his own country—they take place in France, Spain, Italy, or in the sea between Cuba and Key West—he is a quintessentially American writer and a fiercely moral one.

‘Hit First, Hit Hard’

Andre Dubus III, Haverhill, Massachusetts, 2011
Townie is not really about town and gown, it’s about the way of the warrior described in straightforward, driving prose that feels almost like the present tense. Dubus is a writer keenly alert to the physical world, its smells, colors, shapes, and substance, and you sense the desire to put things down clearly and exactly so that they will be remembered.

The Art of the Ditch

There was a smell of something burning. It had become completely quiet. There was no word from the cockpit. A woman would text her husband, “My flight is crashing.” The airplane was not crashing, but it was definitely headed down.

On Richard Seaver

Richard Seaver and Samuel Beckett, Paris, mid-1970s; photograph by Jeannette Seaver
Though he followed it by a decade or more, Richard Seaver, an eminent editor, publisher, and translator, belongs to what is now thought of as a better time in American publishing, a period from, say, 1920 to 1950, during which were founded a number of houses controlled by and responding …