For my money, James Salter is the best American writer alive today.
I'm currently reading his 1975 novel Light Years, and it is as vivid and devastatingly beautiful as expected. Part of what enthralls me so are his descriptions of the beach—words that perfectly capture days spent watching the Atlantic slide upon the sands of Amagansett.
Long Island beaches may still look like this photograph, crusted with late-season snow. But as I read I am pulled forward with anticipation of summer sun and the caress of a kinder sea.