San Francisco soap opera
Armistead Maupin published a new book in his Tales of the City series this year, called Michael Tolliver Lives. I've heard so much about this series over the years, but never read any of them. So instead of getting on the waiting list for this book, I picked up the first in the series, appropriately called Tales of the City.
Mary Ann Singleton (and I thought Bridget Jones came up with that term!) moves from Cleveland to San Francisco, on kind of a whim. She finds an affordable apartment at 28 Barbary Lane, an old Victorian house operated by the mysterious Anna Madrigal, who welcomes each new boarder with a joint of homegrown marijuana. The naive and innocent Midwesterner's eyes are slowly opened to the liberal and crazy world that is San Francisco in this pre-AIDS era. Michael Tolliver, a gay man, Mona, a lesbian with a black lover, and Brian, a handsome Don Juan, all residents of #28, educate Mary Ann, each in their own way.
This isn't great literature. The character development, almost non-existent, is stereotyped and one-dimensional. Having said that, it's a fun read. Apparently Maupin wrote this in the mid-1970s as a serial for the San Francisco Chronicle. So each chapter is short and ends with a Dallas-style cliff hanger. I don't know if I'll read any more of the seven books of the series. But I am very tempted by the PBS series based on these books. (Laura Linney plays Mary Ann.) I would imagine as the series traverses the AIDS era and beyond, that it might take on a sadder, more serious tone. And that it would end up being a study in the evolution of the gay and transsexual culture in San Francisco.