Late in October, a fall from a ladder leaves Hugh with a fractured vision of the pain suffered by all those close to him—dying parents, shaky marriages, failure of every kind. All his friends are one missed ladder-rung from going under emotionally, physically, and financially. Somebody’s going to have to fix them all. And it’s probably got to be Hugh.
Meanwhile, beneath the adult orbit, younger troubles spin: the sons and daughters of Hugh’s friends are about to graduate from high school and already floating away from the gravitational pull of their parents. As complicated bonds form and break in texts and ticks on multiplying media, the desires, terrors, and revelations of adolescence are mirrored in the second adolescence of the adults. Close to Hugh revels in these two parallel worlds, in the puns and coincidences that attend every generation’s coming of age, or second coming.