The allure of literary letters and rare first editions captures the imaginations of three professors of English literature and leads to tragedy in the wake of the Great Kobe Earthquake of 1995. An English professor receives a mysterious package with several smaller packages within it, including a manuscript, from a recently deceased former student. The manuscript tells the former student's story - a story he had never revealed to anyone. As a newly-minted Ph.D. from Yale, Jack Springs, ended up in Kobe, Japan circa 1992, where he encountered a mysterious Japanese professor of American literature, named Goto. The second son of a family of immense wealth and power, Goto was a clandestine collector of literary rarities, manuscripts, and books. Through a series of meetings, Goto provided Jack with a systematic set of revelations about Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and other literary giants, all of which were supported by unknown documents in Goto's possession. With the allure of these revelations, as well as Goto's beautiful niece, Jack was drawn back to Goto's house again and again until the tragic events on the day of the Great Kobe Earthquake of 1995 threatened to destroy all that had been revealed - including Jack's sense of who he was and what he was capable of.