The story is told by Peter Aaron about the victim, Benjamin Sachs, his best friend whom he first meets as a fellow writer in a Greenwich Village bar in 1975. Peter decides to try to piece together the story of Ben's other life after agents from the F.B.I. approach him in the course of their investigation. Of their friendship, Peter acknowledges Benâs lost years of suffering and painful inner state, saying âIn 15 years, Sachs travelled from one end of himself to the other, and by the time he came to that last place, I doubt he even knew who he was anymore. So much distance had been covered by then, it wouldn't have been possible for him to remember where he had begun. The two first meet as struggling novelists, Peter with the âwheelingâ mind and the provocative Ben with his perfect marriage to the beautiful Fanny. Both have a wish to âsay somethingâ, to make a difference in the real world.Privately, Ben himself is full of doubts and his marriage is showing cracks, when one night at a drunken party by freakish chance, he tumbles from a fourth-floor fire escape, nearly losing his life. The fall is both actual and metaphorical. For days afterward he refuses to speak and on recovery he is strangely remote. Within a week of turning 41, Ben expresses a desire to end the life he has lived until then. Feeling that his life has been a waste, he declares he wants everything to change, and serving himself with an all-or-nothing ultimatum, decides he must take control or fail. In evincing this change, he leaves Fanny, moves to a cabin in Vermont where he begins to work on a book â then vanishes.His cabin and its contents are deserted, including his manuscript, titled Leviathan. There is no further contact with Fanny and one final meeting with Peter where he confesses all.Peter pieces together Benâs life and relationships with Maria, an artist, and her friend Lillian. A random, violent encounter with Lillian's husband, a Vietnam War veteran named Reed sends Ben in a radically new direction...Medicis Prize 1993 in France.