Suspenseful, comic, and profoundly moving, the latest novel in Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series follows one of modern literature's most beloved and indelible characters--Anna Madrigal, the transgender landlady of 28 Barbary Lane--as she embarks on a road trip that will take her deep into her complicated past.
Now ninety-two, and committed to the notion of "leaving like a lady," Mrs. Madrigal has seemingly found peace with her "logical family" in San Francisco: her devoted young caretaker, Jake Greenleaf; her former tenant Brian Hawkins and his daughter, Shawna; and Michael Tolliver and Mary Ann Singleton, who have known and loved Anna for nearly four decades.
Some members of Anna's family are bound for the otherworldly landscape of Burning Man, the art community in Nevada's Black Rock Desert where sixty thousand revelers gather to construct a city designed to last only one week. Anna herself has another Nevada destination in mind: a lonely stretch of road outside of Winnemucca where the sixteen-year-old boy she once was ran away from the whorehouse he called home. With Brian and his beat-up RV, she journeys into the dusty, troubled heart of her Depression-era childhood to unearth a lifetime of secrets and dreams, and to attend to unfinished business she has long avoided.
The ninth and final novel in Armistead Maupin's classic Tales of the City series, The Days of Anna Madrigal is the triumphant resolution to a saga of urban family life that has enchanted and enlightened readers around the world since 1976.
In this ninth volume, Armistead Maupin brings his Tales of the City series to a close. The first three books describe 1970s life in San Francisco, the eponymous City, in all its glorious diversity and unconventionality, introducing us to a charming cast of characters. The second three, by necessity, deal with the changes wrought by the onset of the AIDS epidemic, although there are plenty of other things happening in its midst. After a hiatus, Maupin writes in the last three books about aging and mortality, while introducing us to some younger new characters. The Days of Anna Madrigal is simpler in some respects than the other Tales. Two groups of characters follow contemporary journeys which diverge and then reconverge at the end, alternating with a third flashback storyline, revealing information about Anna's pre-transgender youth. Readers of the series will not be surprised that after a close call in the last book, Mary Ann in Autumn, Anna realizes and accepts that she's winding down, and wants to take care of some unfinished business while she can. This is a loving and respectful sendoff for a wise character we've admired along with her fictional "logical family." When I closed the book, I wished it had been a little longer. There's probably a metaphor there.
|Maupin at MPIBA in October 2013|
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