Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Libya Hill. North Carolina town modeled closely on Wolfe’s hometown of Asheville that is Webber’s birthplace and hometown. When he returns there to attend his mother’s funeral, he comes to the realization that Libya Hill no longer furnishes him with any opportunities, that he cannot, in fact, go home again. Meanwhile, signs of America’s faltering economy during the Great Depression are evident in the closing of the local bank, the Citizens Trust Company.
*Brooklyn. New York City borough in which Webber, following Wolfe’s own experience there, lives a spartan existence for four years, as he struggles to publish his second book. Brooklyn is full of dilapidated housing, seedy hot dog stands, broken-down roads, and dreary coffeehouses. During his residence there, Webber receives his only comfort from the company of his editor, Foxhall Edwards, who helps Webber cope with the mixed reviews that greet his first novel.
*London. Webber goes to the capital of Great Britain in 1934, seeking fame and adventure and an escape from his monotonous life in Brooklyn. There, he rents a flat while trying to finish another novel. He hopes that the culture and civilization of the Old World will supply him with ample experiences to write about and the motivation to succeed. He lives on the third floor of a small London house that he shares with a doctor’s office and a tailor shop; during the evenings, he has the entire place to himself. While in London, Webber meets the author Lloyd McHarg (modeled on F. Scott Fitzgerald), who calls Webber one of the leading young figures of the American literary scene. McHarg gives Webber incentive to go on with his writing.
*Berlin. After a brief return to New York to deliver his second novel, Webber goes to Germany, which he visited several years earlier and came to regard as one of the great founts of European culture. In keeping with the theme that one can never truly return to the past, Webber encounters a Germany drastically altered by the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism. Although he still admires the natural beauty of Germany, he eventually concludes that Nazism is a manifestation of humankind’s historical preoccupation with barbarism, cruelty, and hatred.