Tag Archives: Armistead Maupin

More Tales of the City – Review

More Tales of the City  “Remarkable … delectable, addictive.”  -- New York Times Book Review

First Line

The valentine was a handmade pastiche of victorian cherubs, pressed flowers and red glitter.

The Review

More Tales of the City picks up quickly where Tales of the City left off. More Tales of the City continues the stories of Mary Ann, Mona, Brian, Michael (Mouse) and Mrs. Madrigal as well as all of their acquaintances and family. This story starts with Mary Ann and Mouse going on a Mexican cruise where Mary Ann meets a handsome gentleman with a case of amnesia about his life in San Francisco. Having convinced Burke to return to San Francisco, Mary Ann becomes Nancy Drew, trying to solve the mystery of Burke’s identity and why he has an abnormal fear of roses. Mona leaves California for Nevada, in order to put her life back in order, and Michael (Mouse) is constantly on the look-out for his one true love as well as dealing with his parent misguided homophobic letters and sentiments.

The book begins with a couple of chapters that neatly summarize the first book of the series. In this book, the characters going through development and changes, becoming a little bit more mature, and more settled with their lives. There are levels of self-discovery, but neatly written with the Maupin sharp wit and still puzzling, to me at least, pop culture references. The amnesia mystery is entertaining, as is Mary Ann’s obsession with finding out the truth about Burke. Mona’s relationship with the landlady, Mrs. Madrigal is further explained as well. This book neatly ties up all the loose strings left by the ending of the first novel. I’m curious to see what the third book, Further Tales of the City, will take the characters.

FINAL GRADE: A

More Tales of the City
by Armistead Maupin
Harper Perennial, 1980
ISBN 0060924799
340 pages

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Tales of the City – Review

A Novel (P.S.)

First Line

Mary Ann Singleton was twenty-five years old when she saw San Francisco for the first time.

The Review

Well, for starters, the opening line of Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin did not give away much of the plot or provide much of a thesis for the story as other novels usually do. The opening line, does however lay the setting for the novel. San Fransisco, and as you keep reading, you find that it is San Fransisco in the 1970s. Although the story starts with Mary Ann’s decision to move to San Francisco at age 25, leaving her home in Cleveland, she is not the central character in this book. San Francisco is a city filled with friends-of-a-friend, that seem to be loosely linked to Mary Ann in one way or another. The central characters revolve around the residents of 28 Barbary Lane; Mona, Brian, Michael (also known affectionately as Mouse), and their landlady, Mrs. Madrigal. As the first book in a series of seven books, Tales of the City simply sets up the scene and characters. For the most part, this book is story of a group of 20-year-olds looking for love, gay or straight love, in San Francisco. There are no clearly defined good guys or bad guys, there didn’t seem to be much conflict or climax in the first book. Towards the end there was a mystery revolving Mary Ann and one of the tenants, Norman Neal Williams, but I felt that the ending wrapped up a little too neatly and the mystery wasn’t very well laid out. There characters are all pretty self-involved, so there wasn’t any one character that stood out from the pack. However, I was interested enough to read the second book in the series, More Tales of the City. I am very glad I kept reading because the sequel is more detailed and well formed than the first book. That just leaves me to confirm that the first book was meant to be an introduction to the characters, and the mysterious Normal Neal Williams was an added element only to create some form of conflict in an otherwise plain story of finding love and acceptance in the city. Each chapter is about two to three pages in length, and tells the story of one of the ten main characters. The characters range from all sorts of personalities and ethnicities that seem to be the core representations of San Francisco. The hippie feminists, the closet gay men, the openly gay men, etc.

My only complaint with the book is that it was written in the 1970s, so therefore, many of the pop culture references, and there were many, would frequently go over my head, so I’d have to stop reading and look up the actors, plays, musicals, scattered throughout the novel. If you lived in San Francisco in the 70s, then this would be a choice read, as you will recognize the locations and many of the references Maupin refers to throughout the course of the novel.

FINAL GRADE: A –

Tales of the City
Armistead Maupin
Harper Perennial, 1978
ISBN 0061358302
371 pages

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