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"An extended love letter to a magical San Francisco."
New York Times Book Review

The internationally beloved classic comes to life in a Showtime miniseries.

Few works of fiction have blazed a trail through popular culture like Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series. Since its publication as a daily newspaper serial in 1976, Maupin's incisive comedy of manners has expanded into six bestselling novels, the first of which became a highly ...

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Overview

"An extended love letter to a magical San Francisco."
New York Times Book Review

The internationally beloved classic comes to life in a Showtime miniseries.

Few works of fiction have blazed a trail through popular culture like Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series. Since its publication as a daily newspaper serial in 1976, Maupin's incisive comedy of manners has expanded into six bestselling novels, the first of which became a highly acclaimed television miniseries starring Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis as the irrepressible Anna Madgrigal, doyenne of 28 Barbary Lane.

Now More Tales of the City is becoming a Showtime miniseries, once again starring Olympia Dukakis, Laura Linney, and Thomas Gibson, as well as exciting new cast members, including Swoosie Kurtz and Ed Asner. It will be broadcast in June 1998.

The tenants of 28 Barbary Lane have fled their cozy nest for adventures for afield. Mary Ann Singleton finds love at sea with a forgetful stranger, Mona Ramsey discovers her doppleganger in a desert whore-house, and Michael Tolliver bumps into a certain gynecologist in a seedy Mexican Bar. Meanwhile, their venerable landlady takes the biggest journey of all'without ever leaving home.

Author Biography: Armistead Maupin's other novels are Maybe the Moon (1992) and The Night Listener (2000). His Tales novels first appeared as daily serials in San Francisco newspapers, starting in 1976. Tales of the City became a controversial but highly acclaimed miniseries on PBS in 1994, followed by More Tales of the City on Showtime in 1998. Maupin wrote the narration for the HBO documentary The Celluloid Closet. As a librettist he collaborated in 1999 with composer Jake Heggie on "Anna Madrigal Remembers" for mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and the classical vocal ensemble, Chanticleer.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Mary Ann Singleton was twenty-five years old when she saw San Francisco for the first time.
That's the opening of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, a collection of stories from the 1970s about the fictional residents of 28 Barbary Lane: Mary Ann the midwestern naïf, Mona the free spirit, Michael the romantic, and Brian the swinger, all of them looked after by the benevolent landlady Mrs. Madrigal.
A late bloomer, I was in my 29th year when I first saw San Francisco.
Well, there was that daylong stopover one family vacation. Not that there was much to remember, except the crowds at Fisherman's Wharf and when Dad, at the wheel of the rental car, terrified Mom as he tore down Lombard roaring, "It's the crookedest street in the world!"
I was a teenager and determined not to be impressed by anyone or anything, and I was too busy rolling my eyes the whole time to see much of the place.
Fifteen years later, however, I landed at San Francisco International Airport, alone this time and sick of New York, intent on seeing as much as I could—in particular, what of Maupin's San Francisco might have survived the rise and fall of roller disco.
Tales is a soap opera, but it's not merely Melrose Place in bell-bottomed pants. There's something touchingly familiar about these characters navigating contemporary urban life and the onset of adulthood. They may have rotten jobs, too little money, and too much heartbreak, but they have a family at 28 Barbary Lane. And if The Mary Tyler Moore Show (to invoke another '70sicon) taught us anything, it's that family-where-you-find-it is what keeps you going when you're going it alone.
You're gonna make it after all, Mary Ann Singleton.
It was a sunny, warm August day when I arrived, though my friends in town kept insisting that the fog would roll in, any minute now, really. But I wasn't having any of it, and neither was the Bay. I had rubber-soled shoes (those hills, you know) and directions to the "real" Barbary Lane, or rather its alleged inspiration.
It was on Russian Hill. Finding the street, Macondry Lane, was a challenge for a New Yorker used to a consistent street grid and generally horizontal movement. I finally found a shady garden path lined with paving stones and branches of long green leaves, small houses on either side.
I was astounded. This was an oasis, an impossibility in the middle of the modern city. It was something out of a storybook. It was quiet and peaceful. It smelled really good.
There was no real street there, not in any sense of a street as I'd ever understood it. It was nothing like my block in Manhattan, where buses rumble by and car alarms whoop it up. You couldn't fit a Yugo onto Macondry Lane, and that seemed just perfect. This was the street where you live, not the street where you drive.
I wondered briefly how anyone could be unhappy there, even Mary Ann while she was having her disastrous affair with the heartless Beauchamp Day, Michael while he was nursing a heart decimated by a handsome gynecologist, or Mona when she was freaking out over being, well, Mona.
I knew I was being naive. San Francisco was still a city with traffic and garbage and poverty. And I knew that troubles still find their way even into the most picturesque place. I just have this habit of thinking, when I'm somewhere extraordinary, that maybe this is just what I need. Why do I subject myself to New York?
But something about Macondry Lane did make me think: Maybe I can live like this. Maybe it's not an impossibility after all.
A real-life resident wandered out of his house to water his miniature garden, and I shyly hid my camera, feeling like an intruder. I walked the length of the block and down the long wooden steps at the end, back into a more typical urban scene.
I left San Francisco determined to come back as soon as possible, maybe to stay. I returned halfheartedly to my life in New York, my job, and my noisy street.
Autumn was beautiful in New York this year, unusually warm and sunny. My friends were here, and I found myself maybe a little more relaxed after my trip than I had been before. Something from that moment on Russian Hill must have stayed with me.
As the months went by, I thought less and less about moving. It would be more hassle than I really wanted, hauling my belongings across the continent. But it also seemed to me, after a while, that Barbary Lane might be wherever you happen to build it.
—Kristen Mirenda
Denver Post
Maupin has a genius for observation
New York Times Book Review
An extended love letter to a magical San Francisco.
Entertainment Weekly
Maupin has always been a humane storyteller, and an accessible one. His life-is-good-but-sloppy soap operas are marked by solid craft, superb dialogue, and what used to be called heart.
The Times (London)
An unprecedented portrait of the agonies and absurdities of modern urban life. The funniest series of novels currently in progress.
New York Times Book Review
An extended love letter to a magical San Francisco.
Harpers & Queens
Maupin writes with warmth, acuity and tremendous wit about ordinary people learning to live with themselves and one another. Read him.
New York Times Book Review
Remarkable...delectable...addictive.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060964054
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1989
  • Series: Tales of the City Series , #2
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.11 (w) x 8.11 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Armistead  Maupin

Armistead Maupin is the author of the nine-volume Tales of the City series that includes Tales of the City, More Tales of the City, Further Tales of the City, Babycakes, Significant Others, Sure of You, Michael Tolliver Lives, Mary Ann in Autumn, and now The Days of Anna Madrigal. The first three books were made into three television miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney. Maupin’s other books include Maybe the Moon and The Night Listener. Maupin was the 2012 recipient of the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Pioneer Award. He lives in Santa Fe with his husband, the photographer Christopher Turner.

Biography

In 1976, a groundbreaking serial called Tales of the City first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. This masterfully rendered portrait of the interweaving relationships of the inhabitants of 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco's Russian Hill was both an instant smash and a source of controversy as it paid particular mind to the city's strong gay community. In spite of naysayers such as anti-gay crusader and orange juice hawker Anita Bryant, Tales of the City attracted a legion of devoted followers. Readers of the Chronicle were known to Xerox copies of the stories and pass them on to friends. Tales of the City themed scavenger hunts were held throughout San Francisco. A local pub even named a drink after one of the serial's protagonists, Anna Madrigal. In 1978, a collection of the stories were gathered together into an extremely popular volume. Most important of all, Tales of the City became a watershed work of gay literature. Who would have thought that its openly gay author emerged from a highly conservative family in North Carolina, did several tours in the U.S. Navy, or once worked for uber-right wing future senator Jesse Helms? Well, Armistead Maupin is nothing if not an individual as complex and refreshing as one of his characters.

While Maupin's upbringing could have primed him to lean as far right as Helms, his interests lay elsewhere. Following his stint in the Navy, in which he served during the Vietnam War, Maupin moved to California. Having settled in San Francisco, he became deeply fascinated by the complexity of its community. His Tales of the City reflects that complexity. The characters are finely detailed and diverse. At 28 Barbary Lane, eccentrics live alongside naïve Midwesterners, romantics alongside skirt-chasers. Maupin infused his stories with ample amounts of humor and humanity, as well as a stiff dose of social commentary. Through six series of Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin lead his characters and his audience from the sexually free ‘70s through the disillusioning ‘80s when conservatism became de rigeur and AIDS reared its hideous head.

Tales of the City went on to spawn a critically acclaimed and successful string of novels, including More Tales of the City, Babycakes, and Significant Others. Maupin finally put his series to rest in 1989 with Sure of You, the only Tales book that had not been serialized. Although the literary life of Tales of the City had come to an end, it picked up a new life -- and many new fans -- when it was adapted into three popular television miniseries, first for PBS and then for the Showtime cable network. Meanwhile, Armistead Maupin was branching out beyond Barbary Lane with his first non-series novel. Maybe the Moon, a biting, moving, and wholly entertaining satire of the movie industry, proved that the writer had the chops to expand his repertoire without losing his edge. The fable-like tale of Cadence Roth -- actress and Guinness Book record holder for the title of the shortest woman alive -- won applause from Publishers Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, The Boston Herald, Mademoiselle, and a score of others.

Following an 8-year hiatus, Maupin finally published his second non-series novel in 2000. The Night Listener, a riveting thriller about the relationship between a radio-show host and an ailing 13-year old writer, found Maupin exploring fascinating new avenues. Once again, the critics stood up for an ovation. Now, movie audiences will be getting the chance to do so, as well, as a big screen adaptation of The Night Listener starring Robin Williams, Toni Collette, and Rory Culkin and scripted by Maupin is currently hitting theaters.

Although Maupin has more than proved that there is life after Tales of the City, his fans still want to know if he will be revisiting the folks at Barbary Lane sometime in the future. Well, all Maupin had to say on that subject on literarybent.com is, "I never say never about anything, so it's not inconceivable that at some point in the future I may get really desperate and write a stocking stuffer called Christmas at Barbary Lane. But don't bank on it."

Good To Know

When it comes to Armistead Maupin's name, don't believe the rumors. Although it has long been speculated that his moniker is an invention of the author (after all, "Armistead Maupin" is an anagram for "is a man I dreamt up"), the writer insists that Armistead Maupin is, indeed, his given name.

In 1995, Maupin lent his voice to The Celluloid Closet, an HBO documentary about the history of the depictions of gays and lesbians in American cinema.

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    1. Hometown:
      San Francisco, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 13, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Fresh Start


SHE WAS NOT MOVING BACK TO CLEVELAND. SHE WAS NOT running home to Mommy and Daddy. She knew that much, anyway. For all her trials, she loved it here in San Francisco, and she loved her makeshift family at Mrs. Madrigal's comfy old apartment house on Barbary Lane.

So what if she was still a secretary?

So what if she had not met Mr. Right ... or even Mr. Adequate?

So what if Norman Neal Williams, the one semi-romance of her first six months in the city, had turned out to be a private eye moonlighting as a child pornographer who eventually fell to his death off a seaside cliff on Christmas Eve?

And so what if she had never worked up the nerve to tell anyone but Mouse about Norman's death?

As Mouse would say: "Almost anything beats the fuck out of Cleveland! !"

Mouse, she realized, had become her best friend. He and his spacy-but-sweet roommate, Mona Ramsey, had been Mary Ann's mentors and sidekicks throughout her sometimes

glorious, sometimes harrowing initiation into the netherworld of San Francisco.

Even Brian Hawkins, an oversexed waiter whose advances had once annoyed Mary Ann, had lately begun to make clumsy yet endearing overtures of friendship.

This was home now-this crumbling, ivy-entwined relic called 28 Barbary Lane-and the only parental figure in Mary Ann's day-to-day existence was Anna Madrigal, a landlady whose fey charm and eccentric ways were legendary on Russian Hill.

Mrs. Madrigal was the true mother of them all. She would counsel them, scold them and listen unflinchingly to their tales ofamatory disaster. When all else failed (and even when it didn't), she would reward her "children" by taping joints of home-grown grass to the doors of their apartments.

Mary Ann had learned to smoke grass like a seasoned head. Recently, in fact, she had given serious thought to the idea of smoking on her lunch hour at Halcyon Communications. Such was the agony she suffered under the new regime of Beauchamp Day, the brash young socialite who had assumed the presidency of the ad agency upon the death of his father-in-law-law, Edgar Halcyon.

Mary Ann had loved Mr.Halcyon a great deal.

And two weeks after his untimely passing (on Christmas Eve), she learned how much he had loved her.

"You stay put," she told Michael gleefully. "I've got a valentine for you!"

She disappeared into the bedroom, emerging several seconds later with an envelope. Mary Ann's name was scrawled on the front in an assertive hand. The message inside was also hand written:

Dear Mary Ann,
By now, you must need a little
fun. The enclosed is for you
and a friend. Head for some
place sunny. And don't let
that little bastard give you any trouble.
Always,
EH

"I don't get it," said Michael. "Who's EH? And what was in the envelope?"

Mary Ann was about to burst. "Five thousand dollars, Mouse! From my old boss, Mr. Halcyon! His lawyer gave it to me last month."

"And this 'little bastard'?"

Mary Ann smiled. "My new boss, Beauchamp Day. Mouse, look: I've got two tickets for a cruise to Mexico on the Pacific Princess. Would you like to go with me?"

Michael stared at her, slack-mouthed. "You're shittin' me?"

"No." She giggled.

"Goddamn!"

"You'll go?"

"Will I go? When? How long?"

"In a week-for eleven days. We'd have to share a cabin, Mouse."

Michael leaped to his feet and flung his arms around her. "Hell, we'll seduce people in shifts!"

"Or find a nice bisexual."

"Mary Ann! I'm shocked!"

"Oh, good!"

Michael lifted her off the floor. "We'll get brown as a goddamn berry, and find you a lover-"

"And one for you."

He dropped her. "One miracle at a time, please."

Now, Mouse, don't be negative."

"Just realistic." He was still stinging from a brief affairette with Dr. Jon Fielding, a handsome blond gynecologist who had eliminated Michael as lover material when he discovered him participating in the jockey shorts dance contest at The Endup.

"Look," said Mary Ann evenly, "if I think you're really

attractive, there must be plenty of men in this town who feel the same way."

"Yeah," said Michael ruefully. "Size queens."

"Oh, don't be silly!"

Sometimes Michael was sensitive about the dumbest things. He's at least five nine, thought Mary Ann. That's tall enough for anybody.

Widow's Weeds


FRANNIE HALCYON WAS AN ABSOLUTE WRECK. EIGHT weeks after the death of her husband, she still dragged around their cavernous old house in Hillsborough, wondering bleakly if it was finally time to apply for her real estate license.

Oh, God, how life had changed!

She was rising later now, sometimes as late as noon, in the futile hope that a shorter day might somehow seem fuller. Her languorous morning coffees on the terrace were a thing of the past, a defunct ritual that had failed her as surely and swiftly as Edgar's diseased kidneys had failed her.

Now she made do with a languorous afternoon Mai Tai.

Sometimes, of course, she drew a glimmer of comfort from the knowledge that she was soon to be a grandmother. Twice a grandmother, actually. Her daughter DeDe—the wife of Halcyon Communications' new president, Beauchamp Day— was about to give birth to twins.

That had been the latest report from Dr. Jon Fielding, DeDe's charming young gynecologist. DeDe, however, begrudged her mother the simple indulgence of even discussing her new heirs. She was downright sullen on the subject, Frannie observed. And that struck the matriarch as very strange indeed. "And why can't I dote a little, DeDe?" "Because you're using it, Mother." "Oh, piffle!" "You're using it as an excuse to—I don't know-an excuse to keep from living your own life again." "I'm half a person, DeDe."
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 26, 2009

    I love the Tales

    Read them first back in the 1970's and they are still fun.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2013

    Another amusing chapter of life in the "big city".

    This sequel to TALES OF THE CITY that is as entertaining as the aforementioned. Generally light and humorous with a few excerpts of pathos that occur in anyone's life.
    I recommend MORE TALES.
    --------LME

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  • Posted January 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    More Tales of the City, Book 2

    Michael Tolliver pursues his favorite gynecologist, Mona Ramsey uncovers her roots in a desert whorehouse, and Mary Ann Singleton finds love at sea with the amnesiac of her dreams. Meanwhile, their venerable landlady takes the biggest journey of all-without ever leaving home.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted June 2, 2013

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