Holleran, Andrew. “In September, the Light Changes: The Stories of Andrew Holleran”, Plume Reprint, 2001.
When I first read Andrew Holleran’s “In September, the Light Changes” found it to be a beautifully written collection of short stories. I reread it last night and now I think that by saying the stories are beautiful is an understatement. I have always admired Holleran’s writing because of his keen sense of observation and his wonderful prose. He draws his characters sharply and he writes with a sense of immediate reality and in doing so shows a world where gay sex is plentiful and love and romance do not seem to exist. This is a theme of Holleran’s and can be found in most of his work but this does not mean his work is pessimistic or depressing; what is does say is that he writes of things as they are—in many cases. It is Holleran’s ability to describe that brings gay literature to a new level and his extraordinary style pervades his writings.
I love Holleran’s novels but these short stories really spoke to me. He writes about the lives of gay men in the 1970’s in New York. The grit of the real world is there and he deals with issues that are true such as loneliness and abandonment as well as self-recognition and friendship.
My rereading of the book renewed the initial feeling I had when I first read it. The stories are small and even though all of the stories in some way return to the idea of New York of 30 yeas ago, Holleran varies the locales and themes. His stories are part of a larger whole like movements of a symphony. When he writes about love and lust and friends, he touches emotions that have been hidden or sublimated.
These stories were written over a period of twenty years and they are original and funny as well as tragic. Holleran writes from the heart and you will easily feel this as you read through the sixteen stories that make up this wonderful book. His polished prose coupled with his command of the English language make even the sad stories a pleasure t read. In fact the author’s voice is so well felt that you question whether you are reading or listening to him tell the stories.
The collection is strong and powerful, it is the sense of place that makes the stories so wonderful. I think however that Holleran has the potential to be a great crossover author because of the beauty of the way he writes. I do not feel that he has been given the credit he deserves and this is because he has been classified and marginalized as a gay author. I am truly thankful that we can call him our own but I certainly wish society at large would have a look at his writings. Since they don’t, they are missing a great deal.