Call it 3.5 stars, I'm a little torn.It's a breezy and in the year 2011, dated slice-of-life novel set in 1976 San Fransisco. I think it's of some small importance to remember that this novel (as well as the next three in the series) were originally published regularly as a newspaper serial. I think that a reader younger than 30 and/or one who is unfamiliar/intimidated by gay culture would have a tough time with this book, but the story is just perfect for film/tv adaptation, which is has been more than one occasion, so a younger reader would probably LOVE this story on tv, in my opinion.As neither, I enjoyed it, but the word that just doesn't leave my mind is "breezy". Like much of the culture of the time, major plot developments and emotional events are dealt with by both Maupin and his characters by attempting to pass them off as no big deal. Death, sex, drug use, family, the quest for meaning in existence are all touched on, but done so in as nonchalant a manner as is humanly possible, both by the characters, and often by the prose itself. At the not-terribly-ripe-but-at-least-less-fresh age of 35, I just know that people don't work that way, although I've certainly seen enough of them TRY to look (and feel) that way. People are impacted by events, despite their efforts to look cool. I would have been less bugged by this had the prose broken into the third-person omniscient once or twice to just suggest that events had caused some deep thoughts. Granted, there are scenes where events cause people to cry. Actually, the characters cry a lot. Like all the time. But it's not the kind of silent doubt and deep thought that real people do when they see anything that makes them think. I don't need Naturalism here, it's not Dostoyevsky, but a dash of it would have made these characters very human and approachable. The most human by far is one who from what little I understand about what happens next, is one of the central figures of the later novels (I don't spoil things for myself).So having been critical of it, I DID enjoy it, and I very much wanted to give it 4 stars, but I just couldn't do it. I haven't decided whether or not to try the next book, but I'm leaning towards doing so, and will add it to my to-read list just in case. It's a good book, and if you've been thinking of giving it a try, please do so, it's good enough to get off the fence for. If you're thinking about getting ON that fence, and homosexual 1970's S.F. is NOT your thing, you'll probably be frustrated, and perhaps you should move on.