Last week I finished the second volume of Armistead Maupin’s collected Tales of the City series, More Tales of the City. My review will be brief, so as to be spoiler-free, because I can’t recommend Maupin’s legendary serial stories enough. They deserve to be read through virgin eyes.
All the denizens of 28 Barbary Lane are back in this second collection, as are many of the memorable characters in their shared orbits. Yet at this point it almost seems as if Maupin’s fictionalized San Francisco is becoming a bit too crowded. We see too much of some characters and too little of others. Some of Maupin’s best characters and most interesting plot lines are given the short-shrift to make room for new and less captivating ones. And while it was very clearly influenced by and cleverly commenting on its time, this set of Tales holds the mirror up to the real San Fran of the late 70s a bit too closely; one of Maupin’s central mysteries this time around was, to me, so outrageous as to be literally unbelievable.
Nevertheless, Maupin’s talent for condensed storytelling still shines, in his dialogue, his detail, and his quippy narration. The story twists and turns like Lombard Street, filling any reader who travels down it with excitement, apprehension, and glee.