Another series for you, darlings. Six books! But trust me, you’ll love shamelessly eavesdropping on these characters’ lives. We must start at the beginning of this tale and so, I present:
San Francisco, 1976. A naïve 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.
Why I Love This Book:
Maupin originally wrote the first 4 novels as a series of instalments in the San Fran Chronicle. He incorporated current events into the stories and included real people and some fictional characters who were pretty thinly veiled composites of real San Franciscans. Spanning the late 70s to the end of the 80s, the Tales of the City series sees a wide-eyed Mary Ann Singleton hit hedonistic San Fran and have her little mind blown as she moves into a wacky apartment house run by the pot-smoking mothering Mrs. Madrigal. The humour is sly, his take on some characters sometimes outright scathing. The events would almost feel too over-the-top except for the fact that so many of them are true or stemming from truth. Over the six books, we hobnob with the dysfunctional rich and pretty, have our hearts broken through the AIDS epidemic, live in the aftermath of Jonestown, and above all, root for these damaged, wonderful core characters to get a happily-ever-after. I’ve read this series a ton of times and I never fail to fall in love with it on each read.
Apparently Maupin wrote three follow up novels to the series starting in 2007. I don’t think I will touch those. I’m worried it would be akin to the pain of listening to a former HS quarterback relive his glory days. The original six are touching and funny and sweet and mocking and fabulous. I’m perfectly happy to keep the magic to those.
Check out the Tales of the City series and fall into a slice of time and place, perfectly realized.
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