Alvin Carpman goes through life with a foreboding sense of the world. A German-Jewish emigre who is fortunate to leave Germany after Kristallnacht in 1938, he settles in Baltimore, and begins a nurses’ uniform manufacturing business following World War II.
He survives some bruising brushes with a clothing union, an extra-marital affair, and the realization that an intellectually gifted son probably will leave the country to avoid the military draft during the Vietnam War.
Yet these episodes pale in comparison to the murder of his best friend and his youngest son’s involvement in the sordid aftermath.
In the end, is Alvin Carpman a congenital pessimist who should count himself among the lucky?