Maybe the Moon, Armistead Maupin's first novel since ending his bestselling Tales of the City series, is the audaciously original chronicle of Cadence Roth Hollywood actress, singer, iconoclast and former Guiness Book record holder as the world's shortest woman.
All of 31 inches tall, Cady is a true survivor in a town where as she says "you can die of encouragement." Her early starring role as a lovable elf in an immensely popular American film proved a major disappointment, since moviegoers never saw the face behind the stifling rubber suit she was required to wear. Now, after a decade of hollow promises from the Industry, she is reduced to performing at birthday parties and bat mitzvahs as she waits for the miracle that will finally make her a star.
In a series of mordantly funny journal entries, Maupin tracks his spunky heroine across the saffron-hazed wasteland of Los Angeles from her all-too-infrequent meetings with agents and studio moguls to her regular harrowing encounters with small children, large dogs and human ignorance. Then one day a lanky piano player saunters into Cady's life, unleashing heady new emotions, and she finds herself going for broke, shooting the moon with a scheme so harebrained and daring that it just might succeed. Her accomplice in the venture is her best friend, Jeff, a gay waiter who sees Cady's struggle for visibility as a natural extension of his own war against the Hollywood Closet.
As clear-eyed as it is charming, Maybe the Moon is a modern parable about the mythology of the movies and the toll it exacts from it participants on both sides of the screen. It is awork that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit from a perspective rarely found in literature.
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.
About the Author
Armistead Maupin is the author of the nine-volume Tales of the City series, which 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. Maupin's other novels include Maybe the Moon and The Night Listener. Maupin was the 2012 recipient of the Lambda Literary Foundation's Pioneer Award. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, the photographer Christopher Turner.
Hometown:San Francisco, California
Date of Birth:May 13, 1944
Place of Birth:Washington, D.C.
Education:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Read an Excerpt
The diary was Renee's idea. She ran across this notebookat Walgreens last week and decided on the spot that it was time for me to start writing things down. Just so you'll know, it's a Mr. Woods notebook, the spiral kind, with a green cardboard cover and the little bastard himself gazing wistfully from his hole in the tree trunk. Renee took this as a major omen. That evening over dinner she made such a solemn ceremony out of giving it to me that I felt like Moses on Mount Sinai. Since then, so help me, she hasn't stopped peeping at me sideways, watching my every move, waiting breathlessly for the muse to strike.
I probably shouldn't start until my period is over, just to keep the pissing and moaning to a minimum, but Renee says that's exactly the time I should be writing. Some journal expert she saw on Oprah says all the important stuff happens while you're feeling like a piece of shit; you just don't realize it until later. I've got my doubts--serious ones--but I'm willing to risk it if you are.
At the moment, Renee is pretending to be engrossed in America's Most Wanted. Though she's all the way across the room, curled up on the sofa like some huge Himalayan kitten, I can almost feel her breath on my neck as I set pen to paper. The pressure is enormous, but I'll try to muddle through, since it seems to mean so much to her.
Who knows? Maybe she's right. Maybe there is a movie in my life. Maybe some brilliant young writer/director will discover these pages someday and see the perfect little film he or she has always wanted to make. And when that happens, who else but me could possibly play me? (After I've lost afew pounds, that is, and had my teeth capped.) Cadence Roth would join the ranks of Sophia Loren, Ann Jillian, Shirley MacLaine, and a handful of other actresses who've had the honor of portraying themselves on-screen. And due to the "special nature" of the material, the Academy would fall all over itself at Oscar time. I'd be a natural for talk shows too, and it's not that much of a stretch to imagine a sitcom spun off from the movie.
Of course, the real reason Renee is pushing this is because she knows she'll be part of the story. Yesterday, when we were sorting the laundry, she told me in all earnestness that Melanie Griffith would be her number one choice to play her in the movie. That's not as farfetched as you might think, actually. Renee's a little broader in the beam than Melanie, and her features are less delicate, but the general effect of soft, pink, babyfied sweetness is pretty much the same. (If you're reading this, Renee, that'll teach you to snoop.) At any rate, we'd have our pick of voluptuous blonde co-stars if we came up with the right script and director. That's a big if, I know, but it never hurts to have a dream or two in the pipeline.
We could sure use the cash. My last job was in November, four whole months ago, a half-hour infomercial in which I played--say it ain't so, Cady--a jar of anticellulite cream. I have yet to see this epic aired. My guess is that the FDA finally caught up with the sleazebag from Oxnard who was fronting the operation and nailed him with a cease and desist. It's just as well. Poor Renee, the last of the true believers, glopped the stuff on her thighs for three weeks and got nothing for her troubles but a nasty rash.
Renee, I should mention, brings home a modest paycheck from her job at The Fabric Barn, and that's keeping us both in cornflakes at the moment. There's no rent or even a mortgage, thank God, since I bought this house outright ten years ago with the pittance I made from Mr. Woods. Still, we're feeling the pinch in this recession. While the wolf may not be at the door, he's at least casing the neighborhood. Long gone are the days when Renee and I would treat ourselves to pedicures and pore cleansings at Hair Apparent, then tool into Hollywood for a night on the town.
Frankly, I'm beginning to feel a little trapped. Since I don't drive, I'm fairly housebound while Renee's at work, unless somebody else swings by on the way to God-knows-where. That's the problem with the Valley: it isn't near anything. I moved here when I was barely twenty, largely at the insistence of my mom, who got it into her thick Jewish skull that Studio City would be much safer than, say, West Hollywood--my personal choice. We lived here for seven years, Mom and me, right up to the day she died of a heart attack in the parking lot at Pack 'n Save.
I'd met Renee when I was shopping for mock leopardskin at The Fabric Barn. (I make all my own clothes, so I've haunted most of the outlets between here and West L.A.) I took to her right away, since she was the only clerk in the store who didn't lose it completely when I walked in. She was so helpful and nice, and while she was cutting the fabric she told me a "dirty joke" that would only be dirty if you were twelve years old, maybe, and living in Salt Lake City. When I explained about the leopardskin, how Mom and me were planning to crash the premiere of Out of Africa, she got so excited you would've thought she was waiting on Meryl Streep herself.
"Gah," she said, "that sounds so glamorous."
I reminded her that we weren't actually invited, that the jungle getup ploy was pretty much of a long shot.
"Still," she said, "you're gonna be there. You might even meet Robert Redford!"
I resisted the urge to tell her that I had already met Mr. Redford (and found him boring), back when Mom was working as an extra on the set of The Electric Horseman. To be perfectly honest, I wanted Renee to like me not for who I knew but for who I was. "Actually," I told her, "it's more of a business-promo thing. I'm an actress myself."
"You are? Have I seen you in anything?"
My face betrayed nothing as I moved in for the score. "Did you see Mr. Woods?"
Renee's big, soft mouth went slack with wonder. "You're kidding! That's my most favorite movie of all. I saw it four times when I was thirteen years old!"
I shrugged. "That was me."
"Where? Which one?"
"C'mon." I chuckled and bugged my eyes. "How many roles did they have for somebody my size?"
The poor baby reddened like crazy. "You mean...? Well, sure, but I thought that was ... wasn't that a mechanical thingamajig?"
"Not all the time. Sometimes it was a rubber suit." I shrugged. "I wore the suit."
"You swear to God?"
"Remember the scene where Mr. Woods leads the kids down to his hiding place by the creek?"
"That was me in there."
Renee laid her scissors down and looked at me hard. "Really?"
I nodded. "Shvitzing like a pig."
"Also," I added, "the part at the end where they hug him goodbye."
Her eyes, which are huge and Hershey brown, grew glassy with remembrance. She leaned against the wall for a moment, heaving a contented sigh as she folded her hands across her pillowy breasts. She reminded me somehow of a figure on a medieval tomb. "I just love that part."
"I'm so glad," I said, and really meant it, though I probably came off like Joan Crawford being gracious to her garbageman. Frankly, I've heard this sort of thing for a long time, so my re-sponses have begun to sound canned to me.
Renee didn't notice, though; she was staring into the distance, lost in her own elfin reverie. "And the next day, when Jeremy finds that acorn in his lunch box. Gah, that was so sad. I just sat out in the mall and cried all afternoon." After a melancholy pause, her gaze swung back to me. "I even bought the doll. One of the life-size ones. I still have it. This is so amazing."
"Did the eyes fall out?"
"The doll," I explained. "People tell me the eyes fall out."
She shook her head, looking stricken and slightly affronted, like a mother who'd just been asked if her child showed signs of malnutrition. "No," she said. "The eyes are fine."
"Do you totally swear you're him?"
I held up my palm. "Totally swear."
"This is so amazing."
When I finally left the store, Renee was my escort, keeping pace a little awkwardly, but obviously thrilled to be seen in my company. I could feel the eyes of the other clerks on us as we threaded our way through the upright rolls of silk and satin. I knew Renee would tell them about me afterwards, and that made me gloat on her behalf. These gawking idiots would find that her friendliness had actually counted for something; that she'd had the last laugh, after all; that she wasn't the blonde airhead they had probably figured her for.
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