Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"What'chu Readin', Girl?" : Tales of the City by Armistad Maupin

Since moving to San Francisco, I've made it a personal goal to read as many books and articles as I can about this city I now - kind of- call home.  My progress has been slow, but gratifying.  I started And The Band Plays On  and The Mayor of Castro Street, in addition to a million web and news articles.  Throughout my reading (and oddly enough, various Craigslist rental ads), I kept hearing about Tales of the City by Armistad Maupin.  Finally, two weeks ago, I came across a display featuring the book at a local bookstore and brought it home with me.  And whoa.  It rocked my world. Before I get into all that though, let me give you a little backstory. 

So Tales of the City started as a newspaper serial that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle during the late 1970s.  (Sidenote: Newspapers are constantly worried about losing readers.  My answer: Resurrect Serials! Especially if they are as steamy as this.  I'd buy a paper everyday.  Seriously.) The stories, which followed the lives of the residents of 28 Barbary Lane, became so popular that they were published as a series of novels beginning in 1978.  The subsequent novels inspired a mini-series which originally aired on PBS and starred Laura Linney (this surprised me because it seems a little racy for PBS).  You can bet I'll be adding those to my Netflix queue. 

Anyway, Tales of the City knocked my socks off and I'm anxious to start the rest of the series.  It's seriously the quickest read in the world, because the chapters are super short and there is so much drama that you can't stop reading.  It's like reading the script of a super crazy soap opera from the 1970s.  Or like, Melrose Place, but in 1970s San Francisco (a time that seems pretty great IMO) instead of 1990s Los Angeles.  So, way better.  It has all the best things to read about, but not necessarily experience: adultery, a secret (and possibly Asian) love child, lots of drugs, bathhouses (and not the kind where you take baths), terminal illness,  more adultery!, private investigators.  And really, that's just the tip of the iceberg.  I didn't want to give away too much.  There were times where I'd read something so shocking, that I'd just gasp and have to set my book down for a minute to process the crazy.  It's soooo good!

Read it so we can have a Google Hangout and talk all about it. 

Great Read for Fans Of...
soap operas, quick fiction reads, San Francisco, drama


  1. These sound fun! And if it shocked you, it must be really shocking!

  2. I knew I had heard of these books before! They inspired the series 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith, where all of the characters reside in the same apartment building. If I return the 2 books of yours that I currently have (and are long overdue), can this be my next to check out from Georgie's lending library?

  3. Yes you can, Katie H! I'll bring it tomorrow night.

    Katie Z, it's pretty racy. Not that graphic, but they casually mention things and suddenly I'm having very shocking visions about what they're talking about. Ha!