A 62-year-old writer - initials S.H. - discovers the journal she wrote during her first year in New York in 1978/9 and looks back on her 23-year-old self with amusement and anger. Reproducing extracts from it, which include parts of the novel she'd set herself 12 months to write about a teenage boy obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, she relives an exhilarating, eventful and often frightening year.Then she was fresh from Minnesota, poor, innocent and hungry for all the city could offer - new friends, books, sex, poetry, ideas, LIFE! She does eventually make friends, but her experiences with men go from the disappointing to far worse. And from the outset she is caught up in a mystery: her neighbour chants bizarre things through the paper-thin walls of her apartment, with references to the murder of a young girl. S.H. becomes fixated on discovering the truth about the woman next door.Now, our heroine can see that both she and her neighbour were victims of their era, when women were second-class citizens. But, if she considers the recent presidential election - 'I hear the roaring spleen of the white crowd as they spit and scream at the woman. The abomination. Cast her out'. - how much has fundamentally changed?