First things first when it comes to reading Maupin's Tales of the City series -- learn to read in segments. This first book flashes from place to place and character to character swiftly so that the reader can get an overall picture of the situation. Quite honestly, it reads much like if it were a television series (which it was on PBS and Showtime...two miniseries, so far). Thus, if you expect it to be full of long chapters and focusing on a conversation or situation for a long while, you're going to be disappointed (much as one of the more recent reviewers of this book was, I note). Maupin's tale of a newcomer to San Francisco, the naive and reserved Mary Ann Singleton, and her misadventures with the residents of Barbary Lane (Mrs. Madrigal, the gay and proud Michael, the liberated Mona, etc.) is the stuff of Dickens' serials, brought to the 1970s in a flash of humor, adventure and out-and-out 1970s wackiness. I have read and re-read and re-re-read the entire series over and over again and have never failed to be entertained by the characters or the situations they find themselves in. Truly one of the most brilliant series out there. Give it a chance -- you won't regret it!