Tales of the City

Tales of the City was on display in a Borders in San Francisco and since I had heard about Armistead Maupin‘s novels in connection with San Francisco, I bought it and read it during our stay in this city. The novel is actually made of a sequence of short dialogues, published as a serial in the San Francisco Chronicle, from 1976 onwards. The dialogues are coherent and sequential in time, revolving around the residents of 28 Barbary Lane. While I liked the immersion of the stories within the city, using a topography I was progressively getting familiar with (incl. the Palace of the Legion of Honor where this picture was taken), I overall disliked the novel very much! The characters are mostly defined through their dialogues with one another and those sound very unreal to me. The part involving the Halcyon magnate and his family sounds like a (poor) 1930 sub-Fitzgerald novel and the forays into the 1970’s gay circles are sounding like a catalogue of SF gay meeting points, at a very superficial level. Another thing that put me off is that the only kid appearing in the whole novel is the victim of a pedophile, while most characters have weird relations with their parents and seem to consider kids a nuisance and only a nuisance… Tales of the City has some comical and witty dialogues and one ends up taking a vague liking to the residents of 28 Barbary Lane, but this does not make enough of a substance for me.

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