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Jonathan Ascher, an acclaimed 1960s radical writer and cultural hero, has been dead for thirty years.

When a would-be biographer approaches Ascher’s widow Martha, she delves for the first time into her husband’s papers and all the secrets that come tumbling out of them. She finds journals that begin as a wisecracking chronicle of life at the fringes of the New York literary scene, then recount Ascher’s sexual adventures in the pre-Stonewall gay underground and the social upheavals that led to his famous book JD. As Martha reads on, she finds herself in a long-distance conversation with her dead husband, fighting with him again about their rocky marriage and learning about the unseen tragedy in her own apartment that ended with the destruction of their son, Mickey. 

Mickey comes to life in the space between Jonathan and Martha’s conflicting portraits of him, while Martha and the biographer tangle over the continued relevance of Jonathan’s politics and his unfulfilled vision of a nation remade. Martha learns about herself, finally, through her confrontation with a man who will not let her go, even in death.