A comfortless look at the life of Hugh Canning finds him in his late forties- he is the big man in a little midwestern town; a factory owner; a bank director; and a warden of the Episcopal Church. He is also childless and virtually wifeless since Hedwig, the girl he had married, had proved to be sexually unapproachable and had gone to bed for twelve years after the ""bestiality"" of the nuptials. A rather commonplace man, Canning had put up with all he had to do without except for the occasional hankerings of the flesh which now make him vulnerable to Flora Killian, a nurse hired to take care of Hedwig. He is also wistfully paternal towards Donald, a young man he takes in his employ, with the unacknowledged hope of finding a son. He leaves town with Flora for New York- then Europe-and there are a few weeks of heady sexual indulgence, but Flora is not easily satisfied; she supplements Canning with casual strangers- and then with Donald. At the end Canning is left alone to return to Hedwig- and in a moment of self-recognition has realized the spiritual lacunae of his existence. Canning tells his own story with such matter of fact acceptance that it is hard to find it disturbing save in its larger, remoter implications- i.e. that the American man has no capacity for experience or taste for living beyond his sexual appetite.