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The characters' lives are linked to each other by acts of generosity or cruelty. A daughter in early 20th century Chicago; a hobo during the Great Depression; an office girl in 1950s Manhattan; the young man reveling in 1960s San Francisco, then later tends to dying friends as the AIDS pandemic hits; as the new century opens, a man who has lost his way finds a measure of peace in a photograph he discovers in an old box-an image of pure and simple joy that unites the themes of this work.