Tales of the City


Christoph Jeff Micklon\'s
Book Report
FOR ENG 744.3
Gay Literature
Dr. John Bowers
Spring 1996
Armistead Maupin

When you sense the affection where people enfold their loving kindness you
are probably amidst the tenants of 28 Barbary Lane, San Francisco 94109.
Perhaps ‘tenants\' is the wrong word, it should be something more like a friendly
community of people. In Tales of the City , by Armistead Maupin, the characters
are intertwined with togetherness. The mother of all mothers, ‘the landlady\',
guardian of all who live under her roof, orchestrates an unfolding story that is
captivating and compelling. It Is her love that permeates the other characters
within this story.
This sequence of story snippets was originally introduced to San Francisco
Chronicle readers back in 1976. It is because of this that each sub-story, or
chapter in the book, is a self sustaining story in itself, more so than most
chapter arranged narratives. This book is the first volume in a series, that
chronicles the life of a small number of San Francisco residents. With each new
chapter there is a personal development for the characters within. It is this
sense of development that is most important for the continuity of Tales of the
City. The development neatly meshes the character\'s lives with one another,
till ultimately the product is a mass evolution.
It is interesting to note that the writing style Mr. Maupin uses to guide
the story forward is consistent throughout the book. Chapters inevitably
commence with a character\'s response to the given situation. There are several
departures from this style, which are explained further on in this book report.
The chapters are suited for the readers of a newspaper. Each is short,
usually between two and four pages in length. This makes the reading simple to
digest. Each chapter equates to an individual episodes of a television soap
opera. Chapters link their engaging scenarios together to form a habit forming
series. The first thirty-one chapters amply show the author\'s intended
direction & purpose for the entire novel.
"Taking the Plunge" ch.1 p.1-3: This is the introduction of the unfolding
Mary Ann Singleton & the expeditious Connie Bradshaw. Vacationing in San
Francisco for eight days Mary Ann discovers that she wishes to escape her home
and stay in San Francisco. She attempts to convince her mother she is doing the
right thing. Haplessly she is not even sure herself about this. Confronting
her housing situation head-on Mary Ann asks her friend, Connie, if she can shack
up with her till she finds her own pad.
"Connie\'s Place" ch.2 p.4-7: Mary Ann moves into Connie\'s apartment. She
believes her new life will begin soon. The two new roommates reminisce about
their childhood together, not looking forward but looking back. Mary Ann
discovers a myriad cologne collection in Connie\'s bathroom cabinet. Connie is
still popular with the men, a quality she is striving for in her new life.
"A Frisco Disco" ch.3 p.8-11: Mary Ann & Connie go out clubbing together
for different reasons. Marry Ann pretends to disrobe her innocence, but her
attempts do not work. Due to her inability to put aside her starched values she
turns down a sexual advance from a man. With the night\'s failure, and without
Connie, she goes home early.
"Her New Home" ch.4 p.12-15: This is the introduction of the caring &
passionate Anna Madrigal. Mary Ann had enough exposure of Connie\'s Trix. Out
of the three places the rental agency sent her, Mary Ann discovers that 28
Barbary Lane is where her new funky home will be. Once back at Connie\'s
apartment, Connie suggests they meet at the Safeway for another man hunt.
"Love with the Proper Shopper" ch.5 p.16-19: This is one of the only
chapters where scenery is in place before the introduction of characters. The
grocery is more paramount to the characters than the other way around. This is
because by its very nature Safeway is a place where people are compelled to
congregate. Mary Ann begrudgingly gets a lesson on how to pick up men from
Connie. Once alone Mary Ann is besieged by a man inquiring specifics on Chinese
cooking. She is repulsed by the overt scenario and quickly dumps him into the
frozen food section. To her frustration the second round of interaction is with
a beautiful man who is not there to pick up girls, he was just being friendly.
He had no intentions of picking her up, namely because he was gay. Mary