The journal of a middle-aged Uruguayan accountant compresses the sharp hopes, the crushing doubts and griefs of an Indian summer romance into a wry cognizance of life's cosmic joke. Senor Santome, widower, father of three grown children, forty-nine years old, looks forward to retirement at fifty, after having mainly achieved over twenty years with the firm a disciplined handwriting with a few self-indulgent flourishes. When he discovers his love for twenty-four-year-old Avellaneda, he is enchanted, frightened, delighted, shy. But Avellaneda shares his love and there are moments when the cautious Santome admits to happiness. Outside the sanctuary, there are office feuds and squabbles; irritating-to-amusing acquaintances; the discovery of his favorite son's homosexual leanings, and long forgotten photographs of his dead wife. But the vitality of a mutually responsive love suffuses Santome's life so that other matters find their appropriate level of relevance. The destiny for which Santome has been ""procrastinating"" for so long seems amusingly possible. But Avellaneda dies suddenly and the ""dirty trick"" is done. God had granted an ""obscure destiny"" and happiness was only a truce. The summit sensibilities of middle-age set down with acuity and artistry.