I was so excited to see the ninth – and final – book in Amistead Maupin’s ‘Tales of the City’ series, a series that is a bit of a love letter to San Francisco and her rainbow-hued inhabitants. It all began about 40 years ago at 28 Barbary Lane where transgender landlady Anna Madrigal ran a sort of family home/pot factory/safe house for some of the young people flooding to San Francisco to find themselves – and each other. Barbary Lane resembled a reef, a lively, beautiful, sometimes dangerous accretion of creatures living with and for each other, greater than any individual.
In The Days of Anna Madrigal, Anna is now 92, and Barbary Lane has been sold off to new millionaires. She wants to make a trip back to her beginnings, to see ‘ home’ before she finally leaves. With Brian, one of the original Barbary Laners, driving the van, they head to a lonely stretch of road outside of Winnemucca where the 16-year-old boy Anna once was ran away from the whorehouse he called home. In true Maupin style the tale is astute, acutely observed, sentimental but never cloying, joyful, a primer in tolerance, and just really good fun. There is the occasional heart-breaking moment, and the quiet joys and sadnesses of time passing – the ebullient ‘Mouse’ is now married to a younger man and has transmuted into ‘Sofabear’ – a change he is feeling a little ambivalent about.
It was lovely to catch up with everyone, and I can’t recommend the series enough for those interested in good writing and modern sagas.