Michael Tolliver Lives (Tales of the City Series #7)

Michael Tolliver Lives (Tales of the City Series #7)

by Armistead Maupin


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Michael Tolliver, the sweet-spirited Southerner in Armistead Maupin's classic Tales of the City series, is arguably one of the most widely loved characters in contemporary fiction. Now, almost twenty years after ending his ground-breaking saga of San Francisco life, Maupin revisits his all-too-human hero, letting the fifty-five-year-old gardener tell his story in his own voice.

Having survived the plague that took so many of his friends and lovers, Michael has learned to embrace the random pleasures of life, the tender alliances that sustain him in the hardest of times. Michael Tolliver Lives follows its protagonist as he finds love with a younger man, attends to his dying fundamentalist mother in Florida, and finally reaffirms his allegiance to a wise octogenarian who was once his landlady.

Though this is a stand-alone novel--accessible to fans of Tales of the City and new readers alike--a reassuring number of familiar faces appear along the way. As usual, the author's mordant wit and ear for pitch-perfect dialogue serve every aspect of the story--from the bawdy to the bittersweet. Michael Tolliver Lives is a novel about the act of growing older joyfully and the everyday miracles that somehow make that possible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060761363
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/20/2008
Series: Tales of the City Series , #7
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 192,404
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

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.


San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:

May 13, 1944

Place of Birth:

Washington, D.C.


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Read an Excerpt

Michael Tolliver Lives

Chapter One

Confederacy of Survivors

Not long ago, down on Castro Street, a stranger in a Giants parka gave me a loaded glance as we passed each other in front of Cliff's Hardware. He was close to my age, I guess, not that far past fifty—and not bad-looking either, in a beat-up, Bruce Willis-y sort of way—so I waited a moment before turning to see if he would go for a second look. He knew this old do-si-do as well as I did, and hit his mark perfectly.

"Hey," he called, "you're supposed to be dead."

I gave him an off-kilter smile. "Guess I didn't get the memo."

His face grew redder as he approached. "Sorry, I just meant . . . it's been a really long time and . . . sometimes you just assume . . . you know . . ."

I did know. Here in our beloved Gayberry you can barely turn around without gazing into the strangely familiar features of someone long believed dead. Having lost track of him in darker days, you had all but composed his obituary and scattered his ashes at sea, when he shows up in the housewares aisle at Cala Foods to tell you he's been growing roses in Petaluma for the past decade. This happens to me a lot, these odd little supermarket resurrections, so I figured it could just as easily happen to someone else.

But who the hell was he?

"You're looking good," he said pleasantly.

"Thanks. You too." His face had trenches like mine—the usual wasting from the meds. A fellow cigar store Indian.

"You are Mike Tolliver, right?"

"Michael. Yeah. But I can't quite—"

"Oh . . .sorry." He thrust out his hand. "Ed Lyons. We met at Joe Dimitri's after the second Gay Games."

That was no help at all, and it must have shown.

"You know," the guy offered gamely. "The big house up on Collingwood?"

Still nothing.

"The circle jerk?"


"We went back to my place afterward."

"On Potrero Hill!"

"You remember!"

What I remembered—all I remembered after nineteen years—was his dick. I remembered how its less-than-average length was made irrelevant by its girth. It was one of the thickest I'd ever seen, with a head that flared like a caveman's club. Remembering him was a good deal harder. Nineteen years is too long a time to remember a face.

"We had fun, " I said, hoping that a friendly leer would make up for my phallocentric memory.

"You had something to do with plants, didn't you?"

"Still do." I showed him my dirty cuticles. "I had a nursery back then, but now I garden full time."

That seemed to excite him, because he tugged on the strap of my overalls and uttered a guttural "woof." If he was angling for a nooner, I wasn't up for it. The green-collar job that had stoked his furnace had left me with some nasty twinges in my rotator cuffs, and I still had podocarps to prune in Glen Park. All I really wanted was an easy evening with Ben and the hot tub and a rare bacon cheeseburger from Burgermeister.

Somehow he seemed to pick up on that. "You married these days?"

"Yeah . . . pretty much."

"Married married or just . . . regular?"

"You mean . . . did we go down to City Hall?"


I told him we did.

"Must've been amazing," he said.

"Well, it was a mob scene, but . . . you know . . . pretty cool." I wasn't especially forthcoming, but I had told the story once too often and had usually failed to convey the oddball magic of that day: all those separate dreams coming true in a gilded, high-domed palace straight out of Beauty and the Beast. You had to have witnessed that long line of middle-aged people standing in the rain, some of them with kids in tow, waiting to affirm what they'd already known for years. And the mayor himself, so young and handsome and . . . neat . . . that he actually looked like the man on top of a wedding cake.

"Well," said Ed Lyons, stranger no more, now that I'd put a name to the penis. "I'm heading down to the bagel shop. How 'bout you?"

I told him I was headed for my truck.

"Woof!" he exclaimed, aroused by the mere mention of my vehicle.

I must've rolled my eyes just a little.

"What?" he asked.

"It's not that butch a truck," I told him.

He laughed and charged off. As I watched his broad shoulders navigate the stream of pedestrians, I wondered if I would find Ed's job—whatever it might be—as sexy as he found mine. Oh, yeah, buddy, that's right, make me want it, make me buy that two-bedroom condo! That Century 21 blazer is so fucking hot!

I headed for my truck (a light-blue Tacoma, if you must know), buzzing on a sort of homegrown euphoria that sweeps over me from time to time. After thirty years in the city, it's nice to be reminded that I'm still glad to be here, still glad to belong to this sweet confederacy of survivors, where men meet in front of the hardware store and talk of love and death and circle jerks as if they're discussing the weather.

It helps that I have Ben; I know that. Some years back, when I was still single, the charm of the city was wearing thin for me. All those imperial dot-commers in their SUVs and Hummers barreling down the middle of Noe Street as if leading an assault on a Third World nation. And those freshly minted queens down at Badlands, wreathed in cigarette smoke and attitude, who seemed to believe that political activism meant a subscription to Out magazine and regular attendance at Queer as Folk night. Not to mention the traffic snarls and the fuck-you-all maître d's and the small-town queers who brought their small-town fears to the Castro and tried to bar . . .

Michael Tolliver Lives. Copyright © by Armistead Maupin. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Michael Tolliver Lives 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 167 reviews.
Candace Weiss More than 1 year ago
When I saw on my Color Nook blog this book advertised as Free download, I was excited to try it, sad to say it is incorrectly advertised on the B and N site. It is not free, oh well. Would like to read it, but not willing to spend tthis on an unknown author for me.
presto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Michael Toliver, the adorable young man from Maupin's Tales of the City, has survived what seemed to be his inevitable doom from the gay plague some twenty years ago and has reached 55 years of age, is fit and living well. Now he speaks for himself, and tells of his life today and reminisces about the past. He has found a much younger man with whom to share his life, Ben, someone who delights in the older man, someone who was happy to marry him. Michael takes us through his day to day life, his concerns for his ailing mother, and we find his life still populated with many of the characters from Tales of the City. We are also updated on many of the events that have befallen these characters since we last encountered them. What shines through this novel, apart from the delightful Michael, is the quality of the writing, Maupin has a way with words that makes you believe, Michael comes across as a real person, not a fictional character. This in no way diminishes the humour, the wit, but certainly adds to the tenderness, the touching quality, the love.Michael Toliver Lives is one of Maupin's best, a gem of a story that can make you laugh out loud as easily as it can move you to tears, an absolutely delightful, positive tale.
CeridwynR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh dear. I loved Tales of the City. But this felt like another author, one without a sense of humour or the joie de vivre that made Maupin's earlier work so much fun. I didn't manage to finish it - it's hard to read something where you want to slap the protagonist out of his self absorption.
ToniApicelli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the next to the last book in the Tales of the City series. I was lucky enough to see the serialized TV version of the first three books and this book does not disappoint. I loved catching up on "Mouse" and what he had gone through during the intervening years.
mahallett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
too much sex, too much relationship. would have liked more mrs. madrigal, more family, more mary ann.
dougbert76 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A pleasant reunion with the major characters from Maupin's Tales of the City series. Definitely a much more satisfying ending to the series than Sure of You.
cajela on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not bad, but not great, either. This book is set in the present, many years on from the end of the Tales of the City series. Michael "Mouse" Tolliver lives, although some other people don't. There are a few new characters - Shawna is all grown up, Michael has a new lover, and a new staff member in his gardening business, and we meet more of his alarming Florida Christian family.It's delightful to catch up with the old characters, but I found the style a little disappointing. After the quick pace and sharp wit of the Tales of the City series, this is much less biting, and often melancholic. Perhaps too much of it is about aging and death; some more comic subplots would have been nice. More of Shawna and Jake, perhaps. But being told strictly from Michael's point of view, that's not really possible. Maupin's earlier format worked much better for the city vignettes, and I missed that.I wouldn't have missed it, but it lacks the sparkle of the original.
suetu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Timeless¿or perhaps timely¿Tales of my CityI won¿t go as far as to claim that Armisted Maupin¿s Tales of the City books are the reason I upended my life and moved to San Francisco eight years ago¿but they were surely a factor. Maupin captures the spirit of San Francisco like no one else, and his books are truly dear to me. Several years ago, in a tremendous act of willpower, I tucked away Michael Tolliver Lives for a ¿rainy day.¿ That day, of course, has come, and it¿s such a comfort to visit with these old friends.Like myself, they are older. Michael ¿Mouse¿ Tolliver is in his mid-fifties and Anna Madrigal is eighty-five! In the pages of the book we get updates on all of our beloved former Barbary Lane denizens, but as the title suggests, this is really Michael¿s show.Like his creator, he is now married (legally) to a much younger man, and is living with HIV¿an eventuality he¿d never considered years ago when AIDS was a death sentence. As for further details of the plot, they¿re essentially irrelevant. This book is all about character. And Maupin¿s insight into these people is just as deep¿and as deeply affectionate as it ever was. Now, clearly I¿m a hard-core fan, and reading this book gave me great joy at a time when I badly needed it. That said, this latest volume is not a favorite. Perhaps because Michael¿s life so closely mirror¿s Maupin¿s, I felt like parts of this book smacked of self-justification. Also, and this isn¿t exactly a complaint, but this book seemed a lot more gay than I remember the rest of the series being. Or rather, more graphically and explicitly gay. I don¿t really care, but readers who aren¿t fairly open-minded might not want to go there. I¿m pretty open-minded, and I could have done with just a bit less detail.Small complaints aside, I was thrilled to reconnect with these dear friends and discover I loved them as much as I ever had. Maupin is a magical writer with boundless heart. I will read absolutely anything he writes. Happily, I won¿t have to wait quite so long for my next visit. Mary Ann in Autumn, a Tales of the City novel, will be published in November!
thorold on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a follow-up to the Tales of the City series, which ended 17 years ago with Sure of You. If you haven't read the six Tales of the City books yet, you have a treat in store, so do that first, and come back when you've got to the end of Sure of You.Michael Tolliver Lives isn't really a continuation or a sequel in the traditional sense. In Sure of You, it was clear that Maupin's anger with the way the world was going, especially the AIDS epidemic, was making it difficult for him to continue the light, comic style of the series. It was inevitable that he would have to go away and do something different for a while. I never really expected that he would bring back the Tales of the City characters, but here they are...The central character in the new book is still Maupin's fictional alter ego Michael Tolliver, but the fast-cutting multiple-POV style Maupin developed to suit the newspaper serial format of the original stories is replaced by a more introspective first-person narrative, with Michael himself telling the story. This gives us a more focussed novel -- we are closer to the world of Maybe the Moon and The Night Listener than to the Tales.On the other hand, we can still revel in Michael's taste for excruciating puns and his ability to relate every situation in life to an old movie (though he's clearly fighting to suppress his "inner Baby Jane" in this book).Maupin is still a master of comic economy, of course: I always enjoy his wonderful ability to sum up a situation by chucking in a couple of product names ("We sat on the edge of the bed and, almost simultaneously, tore at the Velcro of our Tevas."). The subject-matter is a natural development of Maupin's concerns in Tales of the City. Michael is nearly twenty years older, and age, in various aspects, is a major new theme. The core of the story is the conflict between "San Francisco" (open-minded tolerance; relationships between people based on free, loving choice) and "Orlando" (closed-minded prejudice; relationships based on biology and contracts). Things are more nuanced than that, of course; Michael is older and more mature now than back in the seventies, and discovers that he has his own barriers of prejudice to overcome when it comes to dealing with his relatives in Florida. But equally, Maupin reminds us that there are still battles to be fought, and the forces of reaction haven't packed up and gone home quite yet (he's probably preaching to the converted here, but it can't do any harm...).Tales of the City was an important part of my growing up and learning about gay culture. My first reaction on starting this book was incredulity that Michael could be so old already. It makes me feel horribly ancient too! The characters are old friends, and reading the book at times felt like a slightly weepy family reunion do. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Essex_Boy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book. I read the Tales of the City series over a 4 week period before I read this latest one. Although this book was funny in places I found it was a very deep and moving book. I recommend this book if you have read the Tales of the City series.
markprobst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Michael Tolliver Lives" is Armistead Maupin's most poignant and endearing "Tales" book yet. A very wise decision to shift to Michael's first person point-of-view, Maupin takes us closer and makes us empathize even more with his alter-ego, an ageing gardener who is reminiscent of the past and quietly struggles to accept his role as an impending senior. The present is cleverly interwoven with recaps of what has happened in the past seventeen years since the last installment, and is told in a style that is almost poetic. If you are a fan of Barbary Lane and can get through this novel without shedding a tear, then, well, I just don't know what to say...
dbartlett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Armistead Maupin has penned a follow-up to his Tales of the City books, this time concentrating mainly on the character of Michael (Mouse) Tolliver, now 55 and in a new relationship with a younger man. Having survived his HIV-positive diagnosis, Michael negotiates middle age, something which he never expected to live to see. In the main portions of the novel, he must deal with the impending death of his mother and his conflicted feelings for his birth family. Other characters from the original series of books make appearances, including Mrs. Madrigal, Brian, and Mary Anne. A treat for all those who enjoyed the earlier books and/or the three television miniseries based on the books.
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This is the only book told from Michael's point of view, which is a great way of continuing his story but with a different feeing. The book doesn't really move any action forward, but that's kinda the point. We're seeing Mouse at a specific point in his life, and he reminisces about the many people and events that have touched his life. It makes you remember the parts and characters of the prior book that you loved, but it does introduce you to new characters that now make perfect sense given his history. Comforting read.
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