September Song CL

William Humphrey, Author
William Humphrey, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-395-58414-9
Reviewed on: 06/01/1992
Release date: 06/01/1992
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Irony pervades these 20 stories by the venerable author of Home From the Hill and other notable works. Some are facile, undeveloped fragments; others suffer from a sameness of tone, the bitterness of their mostly middle-aged or elderly characters. ``The Apple of Discord'' features a manipulative apple grower whose obsessive desire to leave his farm to his daughter motivates behavior that violates credibility. Another bitter man determined to impose his will on others is the art dealer deluded about his wife's talent in ``Vissi d'Arte.'' The melodramatic plot of ``An Eye for an Eye'' recalls the domestic situation in Wharton's Ethan Frome . Yet several memorable entries show Humphrey in top form. The protagonist of the psychologically astute title story is a 78-year-old woman who almost decides to divorce her husband and marry her former lover. In the poignant ``The Dead Languages,'' an ex-reporter understands that his loss of hearing will sever his ties to the spoken word and the wider world. ``Dead Weight'' is a tightly told, intriguing tale of a curmudgeonly bachelor, an antiques ``picker'' by trade, who finds himself saddled with a disabled, dying dealer. Several wonderful, ironic twists keep the story buoyant. Humphrey's prose is sure and resonant; in the best stories here, he again proves himself a master of his craft. (July)
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