Jana's Reviews > Tales of the City

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
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Oct 26, 2010

did not like it

I have this rule about reading a book: I usually give every book a chance of 100 pages. If I still don‘t like it by then I stop reading it. This is what happened with The Tales of the City. I was supposed to read it for my book club meeting but I found out about the book club only a few days before the meeting so I never managed to read the whole book. I managed to read around 80 pages. Nevertheless, I went to the meeting anyway. It was a great evening with lovely people but all they said was confirming my first impression of the book. There were not many people around who really liked it. After the meeting, I really wanted to go on reading because I wanted to find out why a few people loved it so much.

But I never made it. I was just bored and after a bit over 100 pages I thought that it is a waste of time and it is not worth wasting my precious time forcing myself through a book that I do not like when there are so many others out there that I probably love!
I cannot even say what I did not like exactly. It is the overall story that bored me quite quickly. Perhaps it was also the writing style that did not grab my attention. It is actually harder to explain why I did not like this particular book than to tell why I love so many others. The story was just boring. Nothing special happened on the first 100 pages. The style of writing was pretty monotonous like a song that is always playing the same boring melody without any highs and lows in it.

In school we learn that there has to be a tension curve in every story. But I had the impression that the curve in this case was more a straight line than an actual curve.
Even though I did not like the book at all, there must be many people who loved it since it is the first book in a series and the author would not write more if there wouldn‘t be people reading these books. So, if anyone of you loved the book, please tell me what made it so special because I really want to understand it. Perhaps I am missing out on something important here.

If I would be asked whether I could recommend The Tales of the City or not, I would probably say that it depends on the reader. Everybody should try it on his or her own to get an own idea and opinion about it. I would definitely not put it on any list of recommended books because there are just way too many others that I would recommend first.

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Reading Progress

09/08/2010 page 10
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Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-3 of 3) </span> <span class="smallText">(3 new)</span>

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Jack Aubrey A "tension curve"? I'm not familiar with the term, despite four decades of reading novels. I think it sounds absurd. Is it supposed to apply to all works of fiction?

message 2: by Jana (new) - rated it 1 star

Jana I am sorry if I got this term wrong. I am not a native English speaker so it might just be a translation problem! What I mean is that there should be some sort of suspense that makes you want to go on reading. Something that makes you curious to find out more. In my opinion, this is totally lacking from this book! For me, there was absolutely no suspense at all. Nothing that trapped my attention to go on reading. I hope I was able to explain it a bit better now... :-)

Jack Aubrey Yes indeed. I guess our experiences were as different as they could be: I consumed TotC and the subsequent volumes as quickly as I could. There are, for me, many interesting story arcs that require (and receive) resolution, and they impelled me to find out what happened next. Underlying them are vividly-drawn characters and an evocative setting that brings to life an era unfamiliar to me. For these reasons, the books check everything I'm looking for, and I found them extremely satisfying.

I think characterization is critical in these novels; you can't care about the story arcs if you don't care about the protagonists, obviously. Maupin does a masterful job, there, in my opinion.

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