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August 29, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

AN ELEGY FOR SEPTEMBER by John Nichols (Ballantine: $5.99; 148 pp.). Simultaneously melancholy and hopeful, this spare novel by the author of "The Milagro Beanfield War" depicts a May-December romance between an aging writer and an eager fan. At 51, the writer is struggling to accept his own mortality and the emotional legacy of two failed marriages; the fan is 19--enthusiastic and uninhibited. Together, they discover a passion that cannot endure. Their ill-fated liaison is reflected in the landscape of northern New Mexico, which seems bleak initially, but reveals a profound beauty when carefully scrutinized.

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