SEPTEMBER FACES by Seymour Epstein (Donald I. Fine: $17.95; 266 pp.). For anyone over 50, this will be both a disquieting and a meaningful book: It deals with the uncharted territory of retirement, complete with all the anguish of recapitulation and reckoning. "September Faces" looks in on long-marrieds Dan and Sara Singer soon after he has taken early retirement from academe and she withdraws completely from what seems to have been an acting career that never quite fulfilled her. What do they do now ?
This new passage in their marriage is complicated by her mother's physical deterioration--it's that time of life, too--and the reappearance of a sweet-faced former student who shows up quite unexpectedly with her husband and baby in the same supermarket aisle. How does Dan handle those long-suppressed longings for her ? How does he deal with Sara's early infidelity? And how do these issues interface with the troubled marriage of that young couple?
The action is occasionally hampered by unrealistic, talky dialogue, but there's an intelligence about the characters that is admirable if not endearing. And there are lessons in their experience.