Dan Shaper, bachelor, translator for the San Francisco courts, is a man who has worn the same raincoat for fifteen years, eats the same breakfast in the same coffeeshop every morning, occasionally sees a few long-time men friends and vaguely regrets a handful of former women lovers. In the sixties and seventies, Shaper was where the action was, (San Francisco, where else?) and joined in the festivities, if moderately. But that was a long time ago.
There are those who have drug flashbacks, even years after they've been using. Shaper has escaped those, thanks to his moderation. But into his relatively Spartan life now comes a flashback of another kind - a nineteen-year-old daughter whose existence he never suspected. Her mother was an overnight acquaintance whom with some effort he manages, barely, to recall. The daughter's name is Amanda, and her phone call sends Shaper's drab-gray existence into dazzling Technicolor.
Amanda arrives trailing a motley band of associates: a con man who explains his activities on his gypsy heritage, except that he may not have one; his blatantly seductive daughter; Amanda's boyfriend, D'Wayne, a streetsmart and (usually) genial black giant. The con man owns what he has named The Yerba Buena Foundation, dedicated to helping businessmen relieve stress; his daughter - well, she runs the place, D'Wayne is the house's security man. Others turn up, segueing from various areas of Shaper's life. Amanda, part typical teenager, part young receptacle of ancient wisdom, is currently employed as a "therapist" at the Foundation.
Shaper plunges into this personal mosh pit like a repentant sinner at a river baptism, the shock of his plunge awakening him to the realization that there's more in life than was dreamt of in his philosophy.
Gold has been blessing readers with his contemplation of the human condition for many years. In this novel his lovely humor and deep understanding illuminates how a man walking a barren highway may react when fate suddenly shoves him onto an unpaved, rutted dirt road.