Joe Allston is a retired literary agent who is, in his own words, killing time before time gets around to killing me. His parents and his only son are long dead, leaving him with neither ancestors nor descendants, tradition nor ties. His job, trafficking the talent of others, had not been his choice. He passes through life as a spectator. But a postcard from a friend causes him to return to the journals of a trip he had taken years before. The memories of that trip to his mothers birthplace move through layers of time and meaning, and reveal that Joe Allston isnt quite spectator enough.