When I first read this book, I had been living in San Francisco for 2.5 years. I felt committed to the city and loved the continuing process of discovWhen I first read this book, I had been living in San Francisco for 2.5 years. I felt committed to the city and loved the continuing process of discovering it but I didn't feel quite so painfully new to it anymore, which made Mary Ann Singleton (oh, that name) and her adventures feel very relatable.
I bought the book because I had heard that Tales of the City was a good representation of the city's unique culture. I kind of expected "edgy" stories about hippies and gay people, but it actually feels honest and has aged surprisingly well. The drama and the plot twists are balanced well with genuine character moments. Yes, there's some dated slang and weird handling of racial dynamics. There's also a ton of local detail that feels deeply personal because you've formed your own associations with those specific places, like dancing at Toad Hall or shopping at the Marina Safeway.
On my first read-through, I felt like the ultra-short chapters were too choppy. Then I found out that it was written serially for the newspaper and only later collected into a book. I finally reread the book more than three years later, and now it actually feels like a strength: after binge-reading comic book series and marathoning TV seasons on Netflix, it makes perfect sense to read a ton of newspaper fiction all in one go....more