In 1991, Armistead Maupin released a collection of the final three works in his Tales of the City series, grouping them under the title Back to Barbary Lane: The Final Tales of the City Omnibus. The naturalistic novels Babycakes (1984), Significant Others (1987), and Sure of You (1989) deal with Michael Tolliver’s continuing recovery from the loss of his lover to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). They reflect Maupin’s main theme—acceptance of and compassion for all people.
Babycakes is a psychological study of the effects of death from AIDS on those who survive. Michael’s progress in overcoming the emptiness in his heart is painfully slow. He is encouraged, however, through the love of his compassionate chosen family to begin to recover from his loss.
In Significant Others Michael’s recovery progresses. As his pain lessens, his interest in the world around him increases. He interacts with a larger number of friends, straight and gay. He swims a dangerous river at night to help a loving but demanding woman solve the mystery of the disappearance of her weekend lover. Michael has tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but he reaches the point that he gives rather than receives help. When his old friend Brian is exposed to AIDS and must anxiously await the results of an HIV test, Michael takes him on a soothing trip to the country. More important,...
(The entire section is 484 words.)