The story of a banjo player whose name we never learn and has trouble growing up or letting go of the past, his ex-wife, his music. He is interested in 19th century literature. He doesn't own a television; he keeps chickens and generally lives the lifestyle of the 1960s hippie. Even his father tells him that staring at the trees will kill him. His life is twisted around that of Paul, the mandolin player, who goes to the narrator's house when he is about to die of liver cancer. The motivations of the narrator and his first wife, Diane, and his second partner, Janna, are complicated and span many years, fifty or more.
The first-person point-of-view occasionally addresses the reader, you. There are many music and musician references and details. The dialogue is realistic and effortless.
"A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me" was first published in Granta and then included in the Best American Short Stories edition, 2014.