Charming underachiever Jamie Garner is living a slacker's life in San Francisco during the dot-com boom--avoiding his stalled career as a radio producer, barely holding on to his relationship with his boyfriend, but surrounded by fun-loving friends. And then Jamie gets the call he's always dreaded: Teddy, the father who never accepted him, has died. It's time for the prodigal son to come home to the subdivisions and strip malls of suburban New Jersey to face the emotionally barren family he left behind.
Caught between the guilt he wants to shake and the grief he can't express, Jamie takes solace in a box of memorabilia he finds in the attic, marked "1960," the year his father spent in San Francisco but kept secret. Jamie is especially drawn to a moody, enigmatic photo of the stunning Dean Foster, his dad's closest friend, who headed west then mysteriously disappeared.
Determined to unlock the mystery of his father, Jamie seeks out the artists and poets, free spirits and wild men mentioned in Teddy's letters to Dean. It's a journey that takes him deep into the subcultures of San Francisco, from the bohemian heyday of the Beat Generation through the Internet mania of his contemporary world, even as it unleashes something primal, hungry and slightly dangerous in Jamie. As his search for the elusive Dean Foster turns ever more obsessive, undermining his friendships, his income, and his fidelity to his partner, Jamie is forced to decide what he is willing to risk in the pursuit of the truth.