Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dispatch From The Fields: "Seriously, this is one of my favorite series ever written." ~Joe
When I first learned there was a forthcoming installment of Tales of the City, I was thrilled. Seriously, this is one of my favorite series ever written. Learning that The Days of Anna Madrigal would be the final book in the series broke my heart. Of course, the series can’t go on forever, and we, as readers, are always welcome back to Barbary Lane by re-reading all of the books. The previous two books in the series, Michael Tolliver Lives and Mary Ann in Autumn, revisited the beloved characters, bringing us up-to-date on their lives more than twenty years after we met them.

In The Days of Anna Madrigal, the story is centered on the titular character, determined to make peace with her past in her waning days. Unlike the other books, more of this story is told in flashbacks to Anna Madrigal’s days as a youth in Winnemucca, Nevada. We meet her first love and get a glimpse of life growing up in a brothel. Brian Hawkins returns to San Francisco to take Anna to Winnemucca to come to terms with her past. Meanwhile, Michael Tolliver, his lover Jake, and Brian’s daughter, Shawna, are headed to a different part of the Nevada desert for the Burning Man festival. Armistead Maupin still tells his story in short chapters, and he winds his two storylines together with seamless ease. Maupin has been telling us this story for over thirty years, and the story is just as ahead of the times as ever. Anna Madrigal surrounds herself with what she calls her “chosen family” and that family has expanded as many do, introducing new characters on the edges of the story.

Knowing this is the final book in the series, I read it as slowly as I could, savoring the bittersweet story the whole way. Maupin made me laugh, made me underline and dog-ear pages, and made me cry. Turning that final page, having said goodbye to these characters I have known my entire adult life, felt like stepping out on your own, knowing the folks who’ve raised you did their best, and their best was fantastic. I will miss Anna Madrigal, Michael, Mary Ann, Brian, and the rest of the gang from Barbary Lane. Armistead Maupin, thank you for bringing them into my life!


Just a reminder, Armistead Maupin will be discussing and signing this book at our Historic Lodo store tomorrow  night (1/23/14) at 7:30pm.  If you want your book signed, you should come to the store by 6:30, when tickets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.

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