Mini classic review: Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

San Francisco, 1976. A naïve young secretary, fresh out of Cleveland, tumbles headlong into a brave new world of laundromat Lotharios, pot-growing landladies, cut throat debutantes, and Jockey Shorts dance contests. The saga that ensues is manic, romantic, tawdry, touching, and outrageous—unmistakably the handiwork of Armistead Maupin.

“Garbage, you know, is very revealing. It beats the shit out of tarot cards.” 

I feel like I read a completely different book to everyone else when it comes to this novel. So many people adore it and I’m left sitting here wondering what everyone likes because this book is probably one of the worst books I’ve ever read in my life.

I could not, for the life of me, feel a single iota of connection to any of the characters, despite so many of them being queer. I found them superficial, boring and generally annoying — much like Maupin’s writing style.

The novel is about a group of twenty-somethings living in a major city as single people, sleeping around and getting involved in all sorts of drama — and yet, I was bored. The 70s in the US was a time of major change with mores around sexuality and gender expression beginning to evolve, but Maupin has created a cast and plot so confusing and strange, I didn’t understand, nor care, about this book. When I finished it, I was depressed.

Also, the ending. What in the actual hell was that ending?

However, I did find the connections between the characters — as in, how they meet and get to know one another — quite clever and worked seamlessly. And that’s probably the only good thing I can say about this book.

Tales of the City reads as a soap opera when its at season 57 and has over-stayed it’s welcome and everyone wants it to be cancelled already. Don’t bother wasting your time on this book.

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