A botched crime forces three men - a sculptor, his son, and the son's septuagenarian friend - to flee their small town in this tragic and moving account of survival in the face of one's own failures.
A man kills his wife's lover . . . almost. The criminal is Gideon Banks, a sculptor of modest success who has finally realized that he is incapable of repairing his broken marriage. Now frantically on the run from the law, Gid is joined by Merit - his adopted, introverted son - and John Frederick White, an old turnip grower, the singer of a thousand songs, and Merit's best friend.
For the length of a college football season the unlikely trio drifts along the highways, backroads, and deer trails of Alabama, befriended many times by other solitary Southerners, alone in their work, their addictions, and their restlessness. In Birmingham, they meet a young woman who is naively charmed by their tale and, bored with her upper-class upbringing, takes them in.
Sheltered in a house of grand portraits and heated floors, the three are afforded the time to face their separate struggles:
John Frederick a fever, Gideon his guilt, and Merit the girl who would ruin his ideas about isolation forever.