It is one in the morning on a freezing New York night when struggling novelist Harry Levine comes pounding furiously on the door of his best friend, photographer Jake Manheim. Harry has all of a dollar and a half in his pocket and Jake owes him a substantial amount of money. Jake has even less money on hand than Harry but what is worse he has not, he declares, read the manuscript of Harry's latest novel, a work on which Harry's last hope is pitched. Or has he? Relentlessly, obsessively, the desperate Harry probes the sardonic, world-weary Jake until the truth is finally revealed. Not only has Jake read the book and found it to be a thinly disguised account of their lives, loves and failures, but believes it to be a work of truly commercial promise and perhaps of genuine artistic merit. Fiercely jealous, believing himself to have been potentially the writer Harry has indeed become, the failed photographer attempts to destroy his friend's one chance to rise.