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Armistead Maupin

Author of Tales of the City

40+ Works 22,394 Members 420 Reviews 88 Favorited

About the Author

Armistead Maupin was born in Washington D.C. on May 13, 1944. He received a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean and with the River Patrol Force in Vietnam. He worked as a reporter for a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, show more before being assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. In 1976, he launched his groundbreaking Tales of the City serial in the San Francisco Chronicle. The series describes a group of characters that live together in a boarding house in San Francisco. Eventually, these Tales were collected into a series of six novels. In 1993, the British Broadcasting Company adapted them for a television series that aired on PBS in 1994. His other works include Maybe the Moon, Michael Tolliver Lives, and The Days of Anna Madrigal. The Night Listener was adapted into a movie starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Armistead Maupin (left) at the Sundance Film Festival, 2006. Photo by Jere


Works by Armistead Maupin

Tales of the City (1978) 4,988 copies
More Tales of the City (1980) 2,639 copies
Further Tales of the City (1982) 2,364 copies
Babycakes (1984) 2,005 copies
Significant Others (1987) 1,845 copies
Sure of You (1989) 1,827 copies
The Night Listener (2000) 1,568 copies
Michael Tolliver Lives (2007) 1,392 copies
Maybe the Moon (1992) 1,129 copies
Mary Ann in Autumn (2010) 864 copies
The Days of Anna Madrigal (2014) 533 copies
28 Barbary Lane (1990) 426 copies
Back to Barbary Lane (1990) 290 copies
Logical Family: A Memoir (2017) 275 copies
Mona of the Manor (2024) 75 copies

Associated Works

The Berlin Stories (1945) — Introduction, some editions — 2,178 copies
The Faber Book of Gay Short Fiction (1992) — Contributor — 322 copies
The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to their Younger Selves (2012) — Contributor — 262 copies
Tom of Finland XXL (2009) — some editions — 92 copies
The Celluloid Closet [1995 film] (1995) — Self — 86 copies
Man of My Dreams: Provocative Writing on Men Loving Men (1996) — Contributor — 77 copies
Milk: A Pictorial History of Harvey Milk (2009) — Foreword — 60 copies
Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City: Part 3 — Original novel — 5 copies
Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City: Part 2 — Original novel — 5 copies


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Common Knowledge



Loved Frances McDormand's narration--it was mildly amusing, but nothing remarkable. Yes, it's nice for its acceptance of LGBT, but it's a bit too free-lovish. Not one character seems to have morals or an ability to be commit to one relationship. Apparently this is the first of a popular series of books, as well as a PBS series with Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis. Even though seven hours of the book didn't thrill me, I do like those actresses, and would probably watch it if I fell upon the title in Netflix.… (more)
TraSea | 107 other reviews | Apr 29, 2024 |
Tales of the City is an interesting read. For me, it was fun but it wasn’t as in depth about the characters and their lives as I expected. Perhaps that was because of its initial serialised format but I found the jumping between characters and issues in their lives superficial.

The story is about a group of people who live in a boarding house in San Francisco in the 1970s – gay and straight. It must have groundbreaking at the time but characters of any sexuality are pretty normal in books these days. There are also a lot of drugs, sex and amazing coincidences between the residents and their friends and acquaintances. Initially it’s seen through the eyes of Mary Ann Singleton, who moves to San Francisco for a new and exciting life. She’s very innocent, but soon learns from her neighbours and friends. She works with Mona, who isn’t quite sure of what she wants and spends a fair bit of time in a sixties haze. Her friend Michael is actively looking for Mr Right anywhere as well as enjoying the gay life. Brian is open to any woman while their landlady Mrs Madrigal offers wisdom and a joint as needed.

The secondary characters are just as fascinating. Mary Ann’s boss shares a secret with Mrs Madrigal and they become unlikely friends, while his wife aimlessly drinks and worries about society. His daughter has her own issues as a bored society wife while his son in law tries out everything the city has to offer. There’s a mysterious man living in the top flat and he has a secret that will make him and break others.

There is a lot going on between the characters. The story rivals a soap opera at times with who is sleeping with who and some of the things that go on (fat farms, underwear competitions, delivery boys that give a bit extra, people who definitely aren’t what they seem). It is wonderfully inventive and glues you to the page wondering what on earth can happen next. The writing isn’t super literary but Maupin knows how to keep the plot moving. One thing that did annoy me was conversations where I lost track of who was speaking as there is little he/she said to give the reader hints.

Did I love the characters and the series? Probably not enough to carry on with the series but I did care enough to read the Wikipedia entries to see what happened to each of the characters. The characters are fun, but there isn’t much depth or maturity to them. There also isn’t much description of San Francisco or the boarding house nor the characters’ thoughts. A lot is left to the reader to make connections between other scenes. It was fun, but not necessarily memorable. Perhaps it was more groundbreaking when first released.

… (more)
birdsam0610 | 107 other reviews | Apr 20, 2024 |
[re: book 1, finished 2016-02-17]

A loving portrait of 1970s San Francisco, with "oh no they DIDN'T!" moments that made me audibly gasp about every ten pages. I want to read all of them forever. Easy to read; you can tell it was originally serialized.

The way Maupin handles some things (trans issues---okay, it's not brought up in this book, but it was pretty obvious to me that Anna is trans) feels a bit dated, but it fits with the times. The mocking treatment of the white characters' racism seemed dead on to me, but be warned that they say and do some pretty horrible stuff.… (more)
caedocyon | 9 other reviews | Feb 26, 2024 |
Mostly funny anecdotes. A little self-indulgent. But I mostly enjoyed reading it.

I'm not certain if the gory details of how racist his parents and family were, and how he was when growing up (into his twenties), are productive? Slurs abound. Like, Armistead, I think you're trying to be honest and transparent about where you came from and what you used to believe, but did you ever have a black character in Tales or no? And the (literal) bed built by the enslaved people your ancestors owned, you still sleep comfortably in it?… (more)
caedocyon | 10 other reviews | Feb 23, 2024 |



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