Sure of You (Tales of the City Series #6)

( 9 )

Overview

A fiercely ambitious TV talk show host finds she must choose between national stardom in New York and a husband and child in San Francisco. Caught in the middle is their longtime friend, a gay man whose own future is even more uncertain. Wistful and compassionate, yet subversively funny, Sure of You could only come from Armistead Maupin.

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Sure of You (Tales of the City Series #6)

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Overview

A fiercely ambitious TV talk show host finds she must choose between national stardom in New York and a husband and child in San Francisco. Caught in the middle is their longtime friend, a gay man whose own future is even more uncertain. Wistful and compassionate, yet subversively funny, Sure of You could only come from Armistead Maupin.

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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 of the City 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 TheMary Tyler Moore Show (to invoke another '70s icon) 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
USA Today
A quietly understated small masterpiece.
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...I know I'm not the only one who was up until 2 in the morning with Sure of You, promising myself to stop after just one more chapter.
Village Voice Literary Supplement
An old-fashioned pleasure...there's been nothing like it since the heyday of the serial novel 100 years ago...No matter what Maupin writes next, he can look back on the rare achievement of having built a little world and made it run.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060924843
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Series: Tales of the City Series , #6
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 165,993
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (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

Taking the Plunge

Mary Ann Singleton was twenty-five years old when she saw San Francisco for the first time.

She came to the city alone for an eight-day vacation. On the fifth night, she drank three Irish coffees at the Buena Vista, realized that her Mood Ring was blue, and decided to phone her mother in Cleveland.

"Hi, Mom. It's me."

"Oh, darling. Your daddy and I were just talking about you. There was this crazy man on McMillan and Wife who was strangling all these secretaries, and I just couldn't help thinking . . ."

"Mom .

"I know. just crazy ol' Mom, worrying herself sick over nothing. But you never can tell about those things. Look at that poor Patty Hearst, locked up in that closet with all those awful

"Mom ... long distance."

"Oh ... yes. You must be having a grand time."

"God ... you wouldn't believe it! The people here are so friendly I feel like I've ...

"Have you been to the Top of the Mark like I told you?" "Not yet."

"Well, don't you dare miss that! You know, your daddy took me there when he got back from the South Pacific. I remember he slipped the bandleader five dollars, so we could dance to 'Moonlight Serenade,' and I spilled Tom Collins all over his beautiful white Navy . . ."

"Mom, I want you to do me a favor."

"Of course, darling. Just listen to me. Oh ... before I forget it, I ran into Mr. Lassiter yesterday at the Ridgemont Mail, and he said the office isjust falling apart with you gone. They don't get many good secretaries at Lassiter Fertilizers."

"Mom, that's sort of why I called."

"Yes, darling?"

"I want you to call Mr. Lassiter and tell him I won't be in on Monday morning."

"Oh ... Mary Ann, I'm not sure you should ask for an extension on your vacation."

"It's not an extension, Mom."

"Well, then why ...

"I'm not coming home, Mom."

Silence. Then, dimly in the distance, a television voice began to tell Mary Ann's father about the temporary relief of hemorrhoids. Finally, her mother spoke: "Don't be silly, darling."

"Mom ... I'm not being silly. I like it here. It feels like home already."

"Mary Ann, if there's a boy

"There's no boy.... I've thought about this for a long time."

"Don't be ridiculous! You've been there five days!"

"Mom, I know how you feel, but . . . well, it's got nothing to do with you and Daddy. I just want to start making my own life ... have my own apartment and all."

"Oh, that. Well, darling ... of course you can. As a matter of fact, your daddy and I thought those new apartments out at Ridgemont might be just perfect for you. They take lots of young people, and they've got a swimming pool and a sauna, and I could make some of those darling curtains like I made for Sonny and Vicki when they got married. You could have all the privacy you . . ."

"You aren't listening, Mom. I'm trying to tell you I'm a grown woman."

"Well, act like it, then! You can't just ... run away from your family and friends to go live with a bunch of hippies and mass murderers!"

"You've been watching too much TV."

"O.K. ... then what about The Horoscope?"

"What?"

"The Horoscope. That crazy man. The killer."

"Mom ... The Zodiac."

"Same difference. And what about . . . earthquakes? I saw that movie, Mary Ann, and I nearly died when Ava Gardner . . ."

"Will you just call Mr. Lassiter for me?"

Her mother began to cry. "You won't come back. I just know it."

"Mom ... please . I will. I promise."

"But you won't be ... the same!"

"No. I hope not."

When it was over, Mary Ann left the bar and walked through Aquatic Park to the bay. She stood there for several minutes in a chill wind, staring at the beacon on Alcatraz. She made a vow not to think about her mother for a while.

Back at the Fisherman's Wharf Holiday Inn, she looked up Connie Bradshaw's phone number.

Connie was a stewardess for United. Mary Ann hadn't seen her since high school: 1968.

"Fantabulous!" squealed Connie. "How long you here for?"

"For good."

"Super! Found an apartment yet?"

"No ... I ... well, I was wondering if I might be able to crash at your place, until I can

"Sure. No sweat."

"Connie ... you're single?"

The stewardess laughed. "A bear shit in the woods?"

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Sure of You, Book 6

    This was a good book, but I still wanted more. I eagerly want to read Maupin's last novel in the series! Sure of You is missing the intertwining of lives that we expect, like in the previous books. Burke returns, to offer Mary Ann a job in New York City. She is forced to decide between her rise to stardom, from her career, or her husband Brian and little girl, "Puppy". With the help of Prue, she meets Rand and Chloe, which makes her mind up what she will do. Having really liked/loved the character Mary Ann Singleton from the very first volume, now I want to ground her face into the dirt. Michael and Thack are living happily and well in their own house, and are coping with the fact that Michael is HIV positive. Still, Michael does some more growing up in this book. He is still a very loveable, friend-to-all, and sexy man. Thack is good for Michael, in a way that he gives Michael a way of thinking about things and people that I don't believe Michael would have considered.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not Disappointed

    While this book is a little different from the others that I've read, I still enjoyed it. I'm glad that this wasn't the ending of the series, because it would have left a lot of loose ends, and I'd probably not rate it so high. While things have changed a lot for gay people and the AIDS epidemic since this book was written, most of the plot could still pertain to today.
    I hope that the rest of the series will be in Nook format soon! I've been forced to read the series almost completely backwards thanks to that!

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