Stegner picks up some years later with Joe and Ruth Allson of All the Little Live Things and paraphrases some of the themes of that book as well as the later Angle of Repose. In particular the irreconcilables between generations (you'll remember the death of their son) and the fact of growing old alone with the worst of life, crabbed by more than arthritis. They live in one of those California "Death Row" Sunshine Cities where Joe feels overcharged if he's offered a half-price Senior Citizen ticket. He's churlishly "killing time" before it gets around to killing him while also losing a tooth here, a friend there. Ruth, and a postcard, return him to the journal he kept during a trip to Denmark after the death of their son when he fell a little in love with the Danish Astrid, ostracized everywhere. This then alternates between the present and the past, the story within a story which will resolve a few painful unknowns for Joe and Ruth, but particularly for Joe--the disappointed father and perhaps the disappointed man. Stegner always tells a very sympathetic tale (this is perhaps not as strong as the above two) which is all too mortally true, equalizing the distance that it travels. It is just these qualities of recognition and participation which create a susceptible readership.