Short Fiction

Article excerpt

TITLE: In September the Light Changes AUTHOR: Andrew Holleran DATA: Hyperion, 306 pages, $23.95

Review by Scott Simpson

This collection of stories by Andrew Holleran includes new stories, and some he had in a drawer for 20 years. Sadly, they should have been left there.

The author of such acclaimed novels with gay themes as Dancer from the Dance and The Beauty of Men can be insightful here. However, there's such a sameness to the characters that it's difficult to remain interested through 16 stories.

The main character in the collection's title story touches on that sameness. Alone on Fire Island after most everyone returns to New York in September, he ventures out in a storm to some neighbors' home. He's in search of company, while they're content being alone. ". . . the two lovers wore gray woolen socks, jeans and sweaters -- and looked in the light of the candles the way more and more homosexual men looked to him these days: like models in a menswear catalogue."

The character recognizes the homogenization of the homosexual. Why didn't Holleran? The reflections of The Sentimental Education's central figure pretty well sum up the collection's characters -- or lack thereof. ". . . he began to see that his life, like that of the characters, was simply a bland tale of friendships, affairs, money borrowed and loaned, all of it leading nowhere ... "

Despite the character flaws, there are passages to savor in the collection. For example, the unnamed character in the title story "had arranged his life, he realized, to be alone, and the world had granted him his arrangement, like a child the rest of the family lets stay in his room at dinner. He considered going back to the city -- taking the last ferry of the day; but he let it leave without him and watched its silhouette move across the bay from his roof."

But, overall, it's OK to give Holleran's short stories short shrift.

Scott Simpson is senior editor of Water's Edge magazine. …