Something really strange is happening in the City by the Bay. People are dying, but their souls are not being collected. Someone—or something—is stealing them and no one knows where they are going, or why, but it has something to do with that big orange bridge. Death Merchant Charlie Asher is just as flummoxed as everyone else. He’s trapped in the body of a fourteen-inch-tall “meat puppet” waiting for his Buddhist nun girlfriend, Audrey, to find him a suitable new body to play host.
To get to the bottom of this abomination, a motley crew of heroes will band together: the seven-foot-tall death merchant Minty Fresh; retired policeman turned bookseller Alphonse Rivera; the Emperor of San Francisco and his dogs, Bummer and Lazarus; and Lily, the former Goth girl. Now if only they can get little Sophie to stop babbling about the coming battle for the very soul of humankind . . .
“Tearing through [the tales] one after the other, as I did, allows instant gratification; it also lets you appreciate how masterfully they're constructed. No matter what Maupin writes next, he can look back on the rare achievement of having built a little world and made it run.”—Walter Kendrick, Village Voice Literary Supplement
Armistead Maupin's uproarious and moving Tales of the City novels have earned a unique niche in American literature and are considered indelible documents of cultural change from the seventies through the first two decades of the new millennium. The nine classic comedies, some of which originally appeared as serials in San Francisco newspapers, have won Maupin critical acclaim around the world and enthralled legions of devoted fans.
Back to Barbary Lane comprises the second omnibus of the series—Babycakes (1984), Significant Others (1987), and Sure of You (1989)—continuing the saga of the tenants, past and present, of Mrs. Madrigal's beloved apartment house on Russian Hill. While the first trilogy celebrated the carefree excesses of the seventies, this volume tracks its hapless, all-too-human cast across the eighties—a decade troubled by plague, deceit, and overweening ambition.
Like its companion volumes, 28 Barbary Lane and Goodbye, Barbary Lane, Back to Barbary Lane is distinguished by what The Guardian of London has called "some of the sharpest and most speakable dialogue you are ever likely to read."