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An aging actor (Ben) is discovered during the run-through of his Broadway production of Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape trying to find his subtext, in order to make his performance come alive to him and his audience. Following his performance, he returns home where he is abducted by a masked intruder and tied up in his home. Over the course of the novel Ben must revisit his past while simultaneously questioning his intruder to identify him and the reasons for his abduction.
His earliest memories introduce the first and most profound love of his life, Sudie, an actor whose subsequent relations with Ben over her lifetime are related non-chronologically, revealing her - and her children’s - influence on Ben’s life, helping to ultimately reveal the intruder’s identity.
We also come to know Ben and Sudie’s best friend Billy, a playwright, whose life and work also affect the action, showing the ways in which the early demise of both Billy and Sudie provide Ben the subtext he needs to perform Beckett’s theatre piece.
The actions related in these memories alternate between locales at Ben’s NYC homes (uptown, midtown, and the Village), Vermont, Lexington (KY), Owen County (KY), Chicago, and Cozumel (Mexico). The novel concludes where it began, during a performance of Beckett’s play, revealing the ways in which Ben’s memories bring the play to life.
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