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Tales Of The City: Tales of the City 1

(Tales of the City #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  38,513 ratings  ·  2,839 reviews

Now a Netflix series starring Ellen Page and Laura Linney . . .

'It's an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco.' Oscar Wilde

Mary Ann is twenty-five and arrives in San Francisco for an eight-day holiday.

But then her Mood Ring turns blue.

So obviously she decides to stay. It is the 1970s afte
Kindle Edition, 386 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Transworld Digital (first published 1978)
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Naomi Tiscione Yes. I don't really remember too much about Los Angeles in the book. But the book encompasses San Francisco, The Peninsula, and Marin (for the most pa…moreYes. I don't really remember too much about Los Angeles in the book. But the book encompasses San Francisco, The Peninsula, and Marin (for the most part). The first time I read this series, I really enjoyed it, but after I lived in San Francisco, it became much more fun.(less)
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Brian Hopps
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  38,513 ratings  ·  2,839 reviews

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Jul 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What did I do between finishing this novel and writing its review? I ordered "More Tales of the City" & "Further Tales of the City" on ebay-- I'm THAT invested/confident that they'll match this one!

It is uproarious and uber-funny! It stars the cute Mary Ann Singleton (think a more modern Holly Golightly--but less of a prostitute) & a vibrant array of costars. It is concise, like "Vile Bodies" and perhaps in that same realm of Evelyn Waugh-type social satire. And what else? Authentic pluses inclu
da AL
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-literary
my favorite of Maupin's books - a time capsule to San Fran 1976... ...more
Elle (ellexamines)
“Mother must be dying.”
“Stop trying to cheer me up.”

Now that, my friends is what we in the business call a wild ride. This is a ridiculous 1970s soap opera that I could not help but enjoy, but I think above all else, it made me hunger on a deep level for a San Francisco I’ve never experienced.

Well. We’ll talk about that in a little while. For now, let’s just say this: Tales of the City is a wild ride from start to finish. On both the level of “this is fucking hilarious” and “holy sh
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 18, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know I am going to be in the minority here, but this is the most overrated novel I have read in a very long time. In fact, I did not even keep it after reading, but rather donated it to charity.
I had heard many good things about this text for years, and finally picked it up. Based on reviews, and what I had heard I was expecting a book in the vein of Dickens, with characters that leapt off the pages and spoke to the human condition. Only one character, in my view, lived up to that expectation.
Feb 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
There was this whole stereotype about gay dudes, back in the day, they were every girl's best friend. Oh man, girls loved to get themselves a gay best friend. He would swan about calling her outfits fierce and making bitchy jokes. He would listen to her complain about her love life. He would say things like "Girrrrrrrl, he did NOT deserve you!" He himself would be neutered. The whole thing is frankly offensive; it reduces gay men to campy tics. They exist only during brunch.

idk who this is I lit
Glenn Sumi
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guardian-1000
I guess I was destined to “discover” Armistead Maupin in 2017. Although, to be fair, he’s hardly a secret – he’s been writing for four decades and has generations of loyal readers.

Back in the spring, I gave a favourable review to the documentary The Untold Tales Of Armistead Maupin.

A few months after that, the galleys to Maupin’s memoir, Logical Family, arrived on my desk. I’d already read his stand-alone (and excellent) novel Maybe The Moon, but it seemed to me that in order to appreciate the
Heidi The Reader
Tales of the City is a snappy, humorous and heart-felt look at the intersecting lives of several people living in San Francisco in the 1970's. As they struggle for love, money and happiness, they establish friendships and create a new kind of family- one of their choosing rather than one they were born into.

"Mary Ann Singleton was twenty-five years old when she saw San Francisco for the first time." pg 9, ebook

One of the main characters is Mary Ann from Ohio. She came on a vacation to San Franci
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.
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Speedy and stagy, the tales breeze by in a kaleidoscopic blur: Maupin interweaves disparate narrative threads with such ease that you hardly register how elaborate the plot actually is, until you've finished it. ...more
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First book of 2019

A cast of characters that you’d remember

Mary Ann

The landlady

Beauchamp n deedee


A string of guys

String of girls

San Fransisco in the 1970s

Still hippies



Sex in many forms


The rich

The poor

3,5 stars rounded up to 4 stars.

I think about...some things...

1) Could I have liked it more if I had read it shortly after the release date. The answer is SURE. OF COURSE. NO DOUBTS.

2) Could I have liked it more if I hadn't' read
Boystown series
? Probably yes. BEFORE reading Tales of the City I was sure that Jake Biondi has discovered a totally new genre. Only Armistead Maupin published his Tales around 35 years earlier than Jake Biondi his Boystown series.(San Francisco vs. Chicago, calm n
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Desk book calendar (It is so opinionated)
I listened to this in audio, read by Frances McDormand. Tales of the City was originally published in 1978 (the year I was born) and it focuses on a cast of characters all linked in some way to a landlady in San Francisco (near where I was born.) .
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
I'm coming up to my ten year anniversary as a San Francisco resident, so it seemed high time to give our city's urtext a go (well that, and I was invited to a film festival screening of the first episode of the upcoming Netflix series). I admit it took an unexpectedly long time to nudge myself onto its wavelength: I realized I had always assumed it was a gay text (it really isn't), and found Maupin's prose style surprisingly flat, even when taking into consideration the format restrictions of it ...more
May 30, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
David Gallagher
Jun 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
I had originally marked this as a re-read. I know I owned this book at one time; the cover with Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis was immediately recognizable and I remember purchasing it after the brouhaha about the adaptation airing on PBS in the early 90's (Jesus don't want gays on his teevee set.) But nothing in here jogged even a faint memory bell so I'm thinking now I never actually read this, I just bought the book in protest. I’m such a poser.

Anyway, NOW I’ve read it.

The first entry in Ma
Michael Thomson
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So glad I picked this book up! Such an easy but enjoyable read and the characters are brilliant! Can't wait to start the second in the series. ...more
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
1970s' classic about a ragtag group of San Francisco residents figuring out what the hell they're doing amongst sex, drugs, and an occasional party.

Good. Well-worth a glance.
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt-themed
I know, you’re shocked, SHOCKED*! that I haven’t read this before. Well that is remedied. Now I know this world, the house on Russian Hill, Mary Ann and all the inhabitants of Mrs Madrigal’s house.

There’s a wonderful documentary on Armistead Maupin (Netflix, thanks Chris for telling me about it) that made me love the book and it’s author even more. He talks about his logical family. His biological family just didn’t work out. When you’re a gay boy with a southern white supremacist father, you n
Patricia Williams
I've always wanted to read this series so am so happy I finally did. Loved the story and the characters. This is such an easy read and the characters are wonderful. Will be so happy to read the other books in the series. There is also a BBC series that you can watch on Amazon. I plan to do this also. This was on the list of the Great American Reads and I now know for sure why it is. ...more
Apr 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible. I can't wait to continue the series. ...more
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
Tales of the City is the first in a series by Armstead Maupin. It’s set in the mid seventies in San Francisco and follows an intertwined group of characters, some of whom rent apartments in a building on Barbary Lane, and others who are affiliated with an advertising agency.

I enjoyed this book a lot and I think what makes it so special are the characters. The author uses his words really sparingly but you get a true sense of who all these people are. Although Mary-Anne is supposed to be the mai
Nicole Gervasio
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book which was listed in the top 100 PBS Great American Read list. I had never heard of the book or author before and am glad to get to read it!

It is set in the mid-'70's (written in 1978) in San Francisco. When Mary Ann moves from Cleveland to San Fran and moves into a boarding house, the reader gets to know Anna Madrigal, the landlady, and all the other quirky tenants. Mary Ann is the personal assistant of the owner of a corporation who manufactures pantyhose. By the end, the st
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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

Other books in the series

Tales of the City (9 books)
  • More Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #2)
  • Further Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #3)
  • Babycakes (Tales of the City, #4)
  • Significant Others (Tales of the City, #5)
  • Sure of You (Tales of the City, #6)
  • Michael Tolliver Lives (Tales of the City, #7)
  • Mary Ann in Autumn (Tales of the City, #8)
  • The Days of Anna Madrigal (Tales of the City, #9)

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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.
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