A syndicated columnists writes about a homeless man who is a good musician and former Juilliard student. Suddenly the homeless man is famous, and there are many people who want to help him. There's just one problem. This man has schizophrenia and is suspicious of everyone. But glimmers of musical brilliance are still there and donations of numerous musical instruments start arriving. The readers expect the columnist to make sure this man is safe and no longer homeless.
In this book Steve Lopez tells of story of his efforts at helping this homeless person. He weaves into the book's narrative a discussion of problems related to treatment of mental illness and caring for the homeless. The book explores the question of whether people who have mental illness should be forced to get treatment. He also touches of numerous facets of being a columnist including wondering about the future of newspaper journalism.
Frankly, this book covers a subject I wish didn't exist. How should we respond to homeless people encountered on the street who ask for money? If a friend has mental illness and doesn't want treatment, should we do something about it?