SEPTEMBER SONG by William Humphrey


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 Bittersweet tales that commemorate the ``dying fall'' of loves, lives, and powers from acclaimed writer and novelist Humphrey (No Resting Place, 1989, etc.). Most of the 20 stories, some only a page or two long, and all beautifully crafted, are preoccupied, like the songwriter, with the reality that ``the days draw down from September.'' In the title piece, Virginia Tyler, aged 76, is asked by the love of her life, now a widower, to marry him; but though she asks her husband of 42 years for a divorce, ``she felt her sense of purpose falter, as the weight of years settled upon her. He and she were teamed together to the end by the yoke of years.'' The apple farmer in ``The Apple of Discord,'' heartbroken that his children refuse to work the family farm, sells most of the land to developers; but after a failed suicide attempt, he ``trudged up to the house to serve out his indefinite sentence,'' realizing that God's purpose was not to be subverted. In other notable stories, an aging journalist finds his once-active life ended by his increasing deafness: ``Nature had made him deaf, he made himself dumb'' (``The Dead Languages''); a woman's blindness destroys her own and two others' lives because ``humankind itself demanded justice for the crime done to one of its pitiful'' (``An Eye for an Eye''); and a husband who, believing in his wife's long-unrecognized artistic talent, must sell his beloved fly-fishing rods to pay for the professional expenses that she, unaware of this and the many other sacrifices he has made for her, has incurred, is ``silenced by the look on her face of fixed dejection'' (``Vissi d'Arte''). Not on the cutting edge but, like Wallace Stegner, occupies that often undervalued high-middle-ground. A book to savor and reread.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-395-58414-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1992