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Roth Retires But Wolfe, Wouk Among Authors Past 80

"During the 1950s, the academic world was full of people who drank too much," Gass says. "The parties were cocktail parties and pretty potent. Now, there are dinners with nice wines."

"Ernest (Hemingway) said that life is like a bank account and how you use it is your determination," Hotchner says. "You can withdraw it in a hurry and live a very short life. Or you can be more careful, not that you baby yourself, but that some moderation is necessary."

Wouk's editor, Jonathan Karp, says that Wouk has always taken good care of himself. The author's first book came out more than 60 years ago, but his lifestyle has remained steady â¿¿ work, family and religious faith, studying the Torah daily. The author of such favorites as "The Caine Munity" and "The Winds of War" keeps up with modern trends, working in Skype and text messages for his latest, "The Lawgiver."

"He has such vitality," Karp says. "I was on the phone with him the other day discussing our publishing campaign for about an hour and he finally ended the conversation because his personal trainer had just arrived."

Gass says that he had heart problems a few years ago and may well have died without receiving stents, a procedure unavailable before the 1980s. The author of "Omensetter's Luck" and other books didn't simply recover, but had the mental and physical power to expand a short work of fiction into his new novel, "Middle C."

Salter's upcoming novel is called "All That Is," the story of a book editor and his romances that retains the themes of erotic exhilaration and emotional distance of such previous works as "A Sport and a Pastime" and "Light Years." He has worked through much of his 80s on "All That Is," aware that at a certain age the mind does not quicken or expand, but also compelled by nature to continue.

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