"A talentless writer wants to do what all writers are supposed to do - commit suicide. After fruitless attempts, he blackmails a man to do the deed for him.
With a B- on a college paper about Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Davenport decides he's a writer, following all the strict writerly rules: the glasses, the hair, the cigarettes, the alcohol. Yet after infinite drafts and a growing page count, Poe: The Dark, Dark Brooding Man is nothing more than a 900 page hunk of paper.
What's a "writer" to do who can't write? How about suicide? That seems to be the next logical step. But, every attempt proves faulty until a plan emerges: witness to a murder, Herman blackmails the killer into doing what he can't seem to get right. All the while, a married woman from across the hall, obsessed with Herman's "mystery," decides he will be the one who saves her from her stagnant marriage and a strange boy continually visits Herman, dragging along his stuffed Snuffleupagus."