Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #1)
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Tales of the City (Tales of the City #1)

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  17,355 ratings  ·  1,205 reviews
For almost four decades Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City has blazed its own trail through popular culture—from a groundbreaking newspaper serial to a classic novel, to a television event that entranced millions around the world. The first of nine novels about the denizens of the mythic apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane, Tales is both a sparkling comedy of manners and...more
Paperback, 371 pages
Published May 29th 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published 1978)
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Tales of the City by Armistead MaupinLittle Squirrels Can Climb Tall Trees by Michael          MurphyFatal Shadows by Josh LanyonTurning 16 by Perie WolfordAlex & Drew by Justin South
Gay Fiction by Men
1st out of 234 books — 53 voters
Tales of the City by Armistead MaupinFairyland by Alysia AbbottThe Velvet Rage by Alan DownsThe Children's Hour by Lillian HellmanThe Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman
LGBTQIA Literature
1st out of 35 books — 5 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason
Aug 15, 2007 Jason rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: readers who like a good story and/or queer literature
Shelves: favorites
Tales of the City is not great literature. That's not what Maupin's aiming for. In what is the first and best book in a six-part series constructed from a serial column in the San Francisco Chronicle, Tales of the City is smart, guilty entertainment at its best. It's a soap opera. But like, say, Six Feet Under, Tales of the City purports to be little more than a creative and intelligent soap opera. Taken as such, it is a delight. Vivid characters. A setting -- San Francisco -- that Maupin gives...more
Mark
Obviously a re-read! Having recently read the latest in the series, Mary Ann in Autumn, I wanted to re-read the entire series. Unfortunately, I am so familiar with the first three books, which were also made into TV adaptations, that I know the stories and most of the dialogue off by heart, so I can't get the same, mind-blowing enjoyment that I did on my first reading. (Although that is one of the pleasures of reading, for instance, Michael Tolliver Lives, where past events are mentioned and you...more
Shovelmonkey1
Jan 17, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: fluffly libertines and fans of chapter blitzwort
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: my gbff
Fluffy hetero/homo romantic nonsense set in San Fran in a time period which I am not really clear on but it might be the end of the 1970s. I think Nixon gets a mention. Or maybe it was Carter. Anyway it's not the summer of love and that's what is important as most of the characters in the book seem to spend a lot of time bemoaning the passing of '67 and wondering what will become of them now that all the free love has gone away or at least become more illusive. People are still producing their o...more
mark monday
i really don't get what all the fuss is about. this is some kind of modern classic? the writing is so pedestrian, it's like i fell into a deep sleep and somehow continued reading.

B-O-R-I-N-G ... P-R-O-S-E

still, an extra star because of the surprisingly intricate narrative.

and that said, i think the miniseries was far more distinctive and interesting.
Alison Whittington
I think I am either too old or too young to fully appreciate this book. If I were older, I might appreciate the groundbreaking nature of its matter-of-fact approach to a variety of characters of different sexuality and gender at a time when social mores were drastically changing. And if I were younger, I might be totally enchanted by all the entertaining drama, good and bad and self-absorbed, that comes with being young, single and in your twenties in a big city.

But I wasn't able to really conn...more
Matt
Wow, I haven't hated characters this much since the last thing I saw by Nicole Holofcener. During my trip to San Francisco, I kept thinking, "If I see any of the characters, I will kick them in the nuts."
I'm missing a lot because I didn't read this in 1978, when having half the characters be gay was revolutionary. Maupin was a pioneer of his day, but it's no fun to read about pioneers of the internal worlds of sexuality, drug use, purpose, and social awareness. External pioneers like Lewis and...more
Kassa
I’d never heard of this book until it started showing up on a lot of author lists of their top 10 favorite books of all time. It’s been described as a gay classic and authentic to San Francisco in the 1970’s. Since this story was first published in the newspaper as a serial in the 1970’s, it has gone on to be a miniseries that garnered several award nominations. Even reading the book today, it remains a whimsical delight that clearly set the stage for many such spin offs in the future. The begin...more
David Gallagher
Jun 19, 2010 David Gallagher rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Can't think of anyone I wouldn't recommend it to
Recommended to David by: My lovely Richard
I didn't actually read this book, but it was rather read to me, and the person who did the reading truly brought it to life - I don't think I would have loved this book so much if I had read it on my own.

I've always loved books with complicated, multi-layered, engaging characters and this one definitely offers that. Their philosophy on life radically different from the next person - they laugh and love and hurt, and their stories intertwine unexpectedly and excitedly beneath the San Francisco sk...more
Bill
Back in 1994 I first heard of 28 Barbary Lane due to the PBS mini series. Still in the closet and living with the folks it wasn't something I would feel comfortable watching. But still it peaked my interest.

A few years later while dog sitting for my brother in Boston I went into a quaint little book store that is no longer and found the hardcover '28 Barbary Lane' containing the first three 'Tales' books and bought it. Later on, back in Boston for another dog sitting weekend that quaint book sto...more
Jack
One of the most overrated authors of all time. Not surprisingly the fact that this series of amateurish daytime soap-opera novellas were adapted for TV meant it was one of those rare instances in which the TV adaptation was actually better than the books. Okay, to be fair, I only read the first book. I slogged through the whole thing, and i absolutely hated it. But, this much i know. The reader could not possibly relate to the San Francisco backdrop unless he had actually spent quite a bit of ti...more
Nicole Gervasio
It's pretty silly, shameless, and sometimes downright gaudy, but I love it. The Tales of the City series might be one of the closest texts my community has to a biblical/historical record: those characters can still be found in San Francisco, so reading about them makes me nostalgic all the time. The fact that somebody was writing all of this from the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in the city is mind-blowing; as you read the books, you get the sense that you're witnessing...more
Jennifer Lane
My oldest sister Laurie, who was involved in the theater scene, used to rave about this series. When my book club selected Tales of the City, I finally had the opportunity to see what the fuss was about.

The story focuses on the interweaving lives of the residents of a San Francisco apartment complex in the 1970's. Groovy, man. Though the cultural references are obviously dated, I found this novel to be hilarious! I'm going to highlight some of the passages that had me giggling. I'm not sure if y...more
jesa
Sep 11, 2007 jesa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: bay area-philes
this was a pretty easy read. it was a fine tale of intertwining lives of motley characters living in san francisco in the 70s...it's dated but it's meant to be. it feels like a game of 'spot the landmark', and makes me miss living in san francisco, though it's just been a few weeks since i left. the stories were not overlty compelling or even incredibly interesting since the edginess of the text has probably softened immeasurably over the years. also, the end feels a bit rushed and almost absurd...more
cody
I had heard of this book for a while, it seems to be quite famous. Especially given that I live in San Francisco its as though I cannot turn my head without the book being referenced in some form or another.

So when I finally got around to reading it I was disappointed. I was dismayed that the book is a glorified soap opera. For some reason I thought it was solid literature, but no, soap opera all the way.

It is an entertaining read. But I felt like I was eating popcorn or cereal. All fluff, no su...more
Ije the Devourer of Books
This is a fascinating story which rambles through the lives of a group of people living in San Francisco. There is nothing special about these people. They are all completely different: male, female, gay, straight, old, young, etc (no racial diversity though) Each person in the story is connected in some way to another person either through work, friendship, neighbours or fleeting acquaintances.

The story has a way of speaking about these different lives through short snippets or glimpses into t...more
Vanessa
This was a really fun and enjoyable read, and a real breath of fresh air from the (mostly) very serious literature I have been reading recently.
It took me a little while to get used to the multiple characters at first, but after a while I was beginning to recognise their speech and the situations they would be getting themselves into. By the end of the book, it felt like a lot of them were old friends, and I loved that aspect of the book.
At times, just due to the clubs and bars that were frequen...more
Dottie
Watched the mini-series from this on PBS when it first aired -- fell in love with the whole thing and found three (at least) of my all-time favorite actors in roles within this series. THEN I went out and read the book the first time -- revisiting it was just as much fun as watching the Tales unfold week by week on TV all those years ago. NOW I'm going to do what I've alway intended to do since then -- I'm going to read the whole series of books -- one after the other like Sandy Duncan consumed...more
Mel Bossa
Memorable characters and crazy good dialogue. Loved Mona. Really enjoyed Michael. But my favorite character had to be Brian! I'll be reading more of these tales in the months to come.

In his remarkable feminist, humanist, ground breaking tale, Maupin really truly captured both a city, its corky, horny, funny, and caring people, as well as an era long gone now.

Made me wish I was there with them. Don't we all wish we could go to sleep under Mrs. Madrigal's roof?

Carrie
Listening to this on my epic commutes to the south-end, and it is DE-wait-for-it-LIGHTFUL. I love a good giant, connected cast to begin with, and slightly ridiculous, soapy plots are even better, but what really impressed me about this is how it manages to simultaneously capture San Francisco at a particular point in time (post-60s, pre-AIDS) but not come across as dated. How is that even possible? I don't know.

The narration is excellent. The dialogue made me laugh out loud -- I think the last b...more
Allie Whiteley
Compulsive and extremely entertaining reading. Fabulous characters. I loved it and look forward to the rest of the series.
Amy
Chock full of colorful characters and steeped in pop cultural references, this series blows me away. I laugh out loud. I cry louder. I feel like I could pick up the phone and call Mouse and chat with him like we were old, dear friends. These characters did become a part of my world, they were just that real and genuine. Read these books. And then read them again and again.
Jeanette (jema)
a bit day-time drama but I quite liked it despite some horrible over-acting (I listened to this from BBC radio)
Simon
Everytime I read this series I love it more and more. Now going to work through them all again.
JayeL
This is a seminal San Francisco book and I had never read it. I liked it because the author mentioned Nevil Shute. I liked it because I knew were all the places were. I didn't like it because it was over the top. I didn't like it because of the way Maupin name dropped with things, not with people. I really thought I would give this a bad review, but I the ending startled me. It was really good and I may even read the second one.

Someone said that it was a great example of a story about a person...more
Davis Aujourd'hui
If you're looking for a wonderful trip to a fantasy land, this is the book for you! The good news is that the trip won't end after this book. There are five more books in the series.

I was given this book over twenty years ago and I immediately went out and bought each of the others after I had read the preceding ones. I have read through the entire series at least three times and it has been just as refreshing each time I have done so.

If you're gay, you will love these books. They will take you...more
Vin
I read this book back in 1994. A friend called my partner at the time to tell him Tale of the City had been made into a movie and was on PBS. We watched it and I feel in love with the story and characters. I found out there were 6 books in the Tales series (Now 7 counting the new 2007 "Michael Tolliver Lives") and read every one of them. I even made sure to visit some of the locations mentioned in the book when I visited San Francisco on vacation. I LOVED these books! Picking up the next book wa...more
Mary vO
I bought this at City Lights Bookstore, whose historical significance (and touristy-ness) gives you a strong urge to buy books related to either the Beats or San Francisco/California. (Doing otherwise might feel like dining at PF Chang's in Shanghai.) And so, I bought Tales of the City.

Tone-wise, this book resembles Sweet Valley High or Who Put That Hair In My Toothbrush?. Pure 70s he-said-she-said type stuff. But in the midst of such bubblegum sweetness, Maupin covers drugs, adultery, abortion,...more
Anna
'Tales of the City' is an interesting mixture of frothy and very dark. It reminded me at various points of 'The Edible Woman' by Margaret Atwood (the central character, Mary-Ann), the film 'Shame' (the character Brian), and 'Atomised' by Michel Houellebecq (some of the attitudes to sex and death). On the other hand, it also reminded me at times of cheery American TV sitcoms, with a side order of soapy melodrama.

I was impressed by the complexity and tightness of the plotting, as the huge cast of...more
Andres Mendieta
I have a bias toward San Francisco. I think it the greatest city in the world. Although I haven't been to many of the great ones. So when I was assigned a book regarding San Francisco in the 70s, I was interested. As my book cover says, this book is indeed a 'love letter' to SF. The book shows that the city by the bay is one like none other. The characters in the book, some new to the city, are free in the city. They aren't prosecuted, aren't frowned upon by their peers, or cast out to dry by so...more
Rachelle
Dec 23, 2007 Rachelle rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: bonbon eaters and cat snugglers
I read this book while I was in the midst of loyally watching a syndicated run of Sex in the City (8 p.m. every weeknight). My motivations for my Sex addiction were definitely sentimental: I liked seeing my old town, I liked seeing girlfriends who brunched, I liked hearing those honking American voices talking about vibrators. I was lonely for girltalk and Eggs Benedict, I guess.

I've heard so many people speak so highly of this series (see enthusiastic comments below!) that I picked it up when...more
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Armistead Maupin was born in Washington, D.C., in 1944 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean and with the River Patrol Force in Vietnam.

Maupin worked as a reporter for a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, before being assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. In 19...more
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“Nobody's happy. What's happy? Happiness is over when the lights come on."
The older woman poured herself a glass of sangria. "Screw that," she said quietly.
"What?"
"Screw that. Wash your mouth out. Who taught you that half-assed existential drivel?”
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“Mona knocked at the wrong time.
“Uh…yeah…wait a minute, Mona -- ”
Mona shouted through the door. “Room service, gentlemen. Just pull the covers up.”
Michael grinned at Jon. “My roommate. Brace yourself.”
Seconds later, Mona burst through the doorway with a tray of coffee and croissants.
“Hi! I’m Nancy Drew! You must be the Hardy Boys!”
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