San Francisco, A Na Ve Young Secretary, Fresh Out Of Cleveland, Tumbles Headlong Into A Brave New World Of Laundromat Lotharios, Pot Growing Landladies, Cut Throat Debutantes, And Jockey Shorts Dance Contests The Saga That Ensues Is Manic, Romantic, Tawdry, Touching, And Outrageous Unmistakably The Handiwork Of Armistead Maupin I think I am either too old or too young to fully appreciate this book If I were older, I might appreciate the groundbreaking nature of its matter of fact approach to a variety of characters of different sexuality and gender at a time when social s were drastically changing And if I were younger, I might be totally enchanted by all the entertaining drama, good and bad and self absorbed, that comes with being young, single and in your twenties in a big city But I wasn t able to really connect with the characters, who seemed fairly one dimensional to me, for all that they were supposed to be exactly the opposite And when I finally finished, I just felt tired and depressed and irritated, in the way that I would be if I spent an entire week watching soap operas and eating junk food I was impressed with the author s ability to effortlessly weave together a large cast of characters, and to bring settings to life with small details, and I was a little intrigued by the various plot twists, but not enough to kindle any interest in the rest of the series I am, overall, disappointed. my favorite of Maupin s books a time capsule to San Fran 1976 Obviously a re read Having recently read the latest in the series, Mary Ann in Autumn, I wanted to re read the entire series Unfortunately, I am so familiar with the first three books, which were also made into TV adaptations, that I know the stories and most of the dialogue off by heart, so I can t get the same, mind blowing enjoyment that I did on my first reading Although that is one of the pleasures of reading, for instance, Michael Tolliver Lives, where past events are mentioned and you have the memory of the whole event, as if these were real people, real friends and real events However, the story grips you so strongly that you just rattle through the book and the dialogue is still sparkling and reminds you why you fell in love with these characters in the first place I STILL want to grow up to be like Anna Madrigal I am looking forward to reaching the later books, Babycakes and Sure of You, which I don t remember so clearly. I know I am going to be in the minority here, but this is the most overrated novel I have read in a very long time In fact, I did not even keep it after reading, but rather donated it to charity.I had heard many good things about this text for years, and finally picked it up Based on reviews, and what I had heard I was expecting a book in the vein of Dickens, with characters that leapt off the pages and spoke to the human condition Only one character, in my view, lived up to that expectation The landlady of Barbary Lane, Mrs Madrigal The other characters felt one dimensional, and as a reader I was completely uninterested in their lives This is a dangerous thing for a character driven novel to do Tales of the City felt like a soap opera to me, not at all the interesting character study so many have made it out to be.My advice, read E.L Doctorow instead for great realistic characters.Or, if you want the San Francisco setting, then read Christopher Moore s vampire series set in San Fran This series might not be considered great literature , but at least you recognize the characters and see their humanity.As for the Tales of the City volumesmy trip through those tales is cut short. I guess I was destined to discover Armistead Maupin in 2017 Although, to be fair, he s hardly a secret he s been writing for four decades and has generations of loyal readers.Back in the spring, I gave a favourable review to the documentary The Untold Tales Of Armistead Maupin A few months after that, the galleys to Maupin s memoir, Logical Family, arrived on my desk I d already read his stand alone and excellent novel Maybe The Moon, but it seemed to me that in order to appreciate the memoir and avoid any spoilers revealed in it I d have to read at least the first of his famous Tales Of The City books.So I began the nine novel cycle And, as friends both IRL and on here had told me, the writing was so much breezy fun the literary equivalent of eating candy that I tore through the first book quickly After reading the memoir, I finished book two.It took no time at all to get caught up in the adventures of the denizens of San Francisco s 28 Barbary Lane bright eyed 20 something Mary Ann Singleton, newly arrived from Cleveland jaded bohemian Mona Ramsey Michael Mouse Tolliver, Mona s gay best friend who soon becomes Mary Ann s good friend after Mona disappears Brian Hawkins, an apparently woke ex lawyer who now works as a waiter and is a notorious womanizer and of course their eccentric landlady, Anna Madrigal, who has, it turns out, chosen each one of her tenants very carefully Maupin has admitted that it took him time to discover the right pace and tone for the book, and to become a decent writer he also had constraints from the publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle, where the book originally appeared in serialized form As we re told in the documentary and the memoir, Maupin was told to keep a chart of the book s gay and straight characters, to make sure the former didn t outnumber the latter True, some chapters feel loose and vignette like But once the plot gets going involving sex, lies and a secret dossier on one of characters it s impossible to put down Maupin has lots of fun with his characters, whether they re looking for love and relationships Mary Ann, Mouse , tired of their marriage and looking elsewhere for connection Mary Ann s lecherous, bisexual boss, Beauchamp Day Beauchamp s boss and father in law, Edgar Halcyon, who has a big secret and is also having an affair with one of the main characters.There s some savage satire in here, especially involving well to do characters a coterie of A list gays the ladies who lunch society women who compete with each other to bring famous artists to the city and who hold patronizing consciousness raising rap sessions about serious subjects like rape.One of the characters, a former girlfriend of Mona s, has a storyline that was far ahead of its time, as Maupin points out in his memoir I have to admit that when I read the big revelation, I laughed out loud, it was so brutally funny And other social observations still ring true decades after Maupin wrote them This series really was way ahead of its time.But it s not just satire or the book s prescience that keeps us reading it s the hopes and dreams of its characters and the friendships they form under the gabled roof of their unique abode it s the sense of fun and excitement that you get in moving to a new city and meeting cool new people even if you ve only moved there as a reader.So go ahead and add me to the huge list of Armistead Maupin fans Can t wait to read the other books in the series. First book of 2019A cast of characters that you d remember Mary Ann The landladyBeauchamp n deedee Eddie A string of guys String of girls San Fransisco in the 1970s Still hippies Drugs Hash Sex in many forms Scandals The rich The poor Speedy and stagy, the tales breeze by in a kaleidoscopic blur Maupin interweaves disparate narrative threads with such ease that you hardly register how elaborate the plot actually is, until you ve finished it. What did I do between finishing this novel and writing its review I ordered More Tales of the City Further Tales of the City on ebay I m THAT invested confident that they ll match this one It is uproarious and uber funny It stars the cute Mary Ann Singleton think a modern Holly Golightly but less of a prostitute a vibrant array of costars It is concise, like Vile Bodies and perhaps in that same realm of Evelyn Waugh type social satire And what else Authentic pluses include the kitschyness inherent in a Pedro Almodovar comedy, and even some of the picaresque qualities of my all time fave, Confederacy of Dunces It is about this enthusiastic selection of promiscuous pre 80 s San Franners It s about the bummer of losing hippie hood the anguish in Bohemia In one word Awesome There are enough characters to satisfy most of the reader s wants, and to alternate his her attentions AND affections I insist that for me, not ultra Gay icon Michael Tolliver but Anna Madrigal takes the Miss Congeniality crown Ultimately, Tales offers entertainment in dollops, and informs the reader about age old queries, like are Michael and Mona prototypes for 90 s favorite fag faghag TV couple Jack Karen Are there actual hetero bathhouses What is a c ring heteros, take note it is quite tiresome to explain this time and again Tales include hetero homo sexual prowlers, nifty ways to pay the rent, and ever clever and ironic plot twists in this sweet escape.And the immoral sinners are, ooh very, very CHARMING Go ahead Bite the lotus PS I recommend the new limited series on Netflix Closure the most important attribute for a finale for an American is reached i really don t get what all the fuss is about this is some kind of modern classic the writing is so pedestrian, it s like i fell into a deep sleep and somehow continued reading B O R I N G P R O S E still, an extra star because of the surprisingly intricate narrative and that said, i think the miniseries was far distinctive and interesting.