Everyone has heard of it. The words Barbary Lane and Anna Madrigal have become gay icons. For the first time back in 1978, gay literature went mainstream. Everyone was reading it.
My mother read TALES OF THE CITY before I did. With a realistic mix of gay and straight characters in regular newspaper installments, Maupin created a detail-driven portrait of an era that is accurate, light-hearted and makes compulsive reading.
We’ve got five Wednesdays to discuss it, and we’ll do it in weekly chunks of 75 pages. I’ve got three copies of the book at the HUB bookstore – email me back to reserve one. Let’s see if it holds up 37 years later. Is this a slice of reality, or contrived cuteness? Do you believe these characters? Do you care about them?
I’ve got the 6-hour, 3-part DVD of the wonderful PBS television adaptation arriving any day, and we’ll set up showings that we can watch together. What a perfect book for a nice warm Seattle July!
Armistead Maupin is arguably the most popular gay writer alive today. His serial, TALES OF THE CITY, opened up gay fiction to millions of straight readers. To be honest, my mother read the book before I did!
He was brave enough to be the first author to include AIDS in his fiction, and he was vilified for it. TALES OF THE CITY was made into a superb PBS series, more series followed adapting more sequels, and it’s hard to find a literary gay American today who doesn’t know who lives in San Francisco on Barbary Lane. Well, the character who anchored and centered the whole series, transsexual Anna Madrigal, is back at the center of THE DAYS OF ANNA MADRIGAL, what Maupin says will be the last in the series. Let’s read it together for March, step by step, and think about our narrative expectations as we go:
Wed, Mar 4: Chapters 1-6
Wed, Mar 11: Chapters 7-13
Wed, Mar 18: Chapters 14-20
Wed, Mar 25: Chapters 21-end
It’s another gamble – I haven’t read this one, either. But I’ve read seven others by Maupin, and I’m sure it won’t be a waste of time. Reading it together, discussing it as we go, thinking about how it affects the entire series, how it stands alone, adds a whole new dimension of pleasure. Hope you can join us! — Nick