on November 1, 1999
This series was recommended to me by a friend during my freshman year of high school. I began reading the books when I was 14 and found that I loved the story lines and found myself getting wound up in the fantastic lives of the characters. The short chapters made it SO easy to lay in bed at night and promise myself "just one more chapter"...but then i'd flip ahead and find that the next chapter was only three pages and i simply COULDN'T end there! this pattern would usually go on until about three o'clock or until i finished the book, whichever came first! Because i was so young when i read the first two books in the series, I think a lot of the meaning was lost to me. During my second year of college i re-read the first two books and found myself falling madly in love with the adventures of the characters in the book. I found mysel weeping on the train...gasping on the plane...and laughing out loud like a lunatic at a cafe. I read the entire series in less than a month and to this day, elements of the stories stay with me.
This book is a MUST read for any lovers of fun, entertaining and poignant stories.
on April 26, 2003
Having the first three books in the "Tales of the City" series all in one place is a huge convenience as I am continually reading them. There is an absurd joy I get whenever I read these stories. Please understand, I realize these characters are fictional, but I so want to be friends with them and take part in their bizarre adventures. Maupin has a very minimalist writing style. The chapters are rarely more than three pages long, and in some cases almost entirely dialogue; yet somehow Maupin is able to create a world so real I feel I know these character intimately.
What makes this collection so wonderful is that it does not contain the final three books in the series. It helps to maintain my delusion that the last three book simply don't exist and the action stops at the end of book three. I highly recommend this collection.
on October 20, 2004
Armistead Maupin wasn't the only gay writer active in the 70's, but his "Tales of the City" books were among the most popular reads. Beginning as a newspaper column, Maupin had the idea to allow reads to direct the story to a certain extent. They would write in to tell him how the story should go, and he would decide which idea he liked best. So I've heard, at least.
These books are filled with rich characters. Mr. Maupin was excellent at drawing readers into his stories by making sure that the people one found in them were people one would want to know. They seemed not only real in that they were multi-faceted personalities of their own, but real in that they were surrounded by the events and culture of the 70's, which were beautifully captured.
Someone reading the books now, when stumbling across a reference to LeCar or Jim Jones, will be transported back in time. Readers not old enough to remember the 70s will get a good glimpse of what gay culture was like then... or a part of it, at least.
Maupin's characters experience situations that just about everyone can relate to. There are also situations that are extraordinary, but it's the day to day that make Mouse, Anna Madrigal and the rest seem like the folks who live next door. The "28 Barbary Lane" volume includes the first three books in the series. It's a wonderfully rich read. Not complicated or highbrow, perhaps, but not all stories should be. This is one of those "curl up next to the fire" books and I can't imagine my collection being without it.
on August 30, 2000
This 3-book volume is a very good buy, because let's face it, if you read the first Tales of the City, you're going to want to keep reading. These books are juicy gossip, the steamy parts of soaps, and the groovy seventies all rolled into one.
The books are a compilation of Armistead Maupin's popular serial that ran in San Francisco Chronicle and was beloved by the city's residents. It's easy to see the appeal, for San Francisco is as much a character in the novels as are the wonderful residents of Barbary Lane.
These stories are so fun! Maupin often included current events of the time in his tales as well, which lent to some silly story lines (the whole Jonestown bit in book 3) but do not lessen the entertainment value.
A caution: it's very easy to stay up way too late by telling yourself, "Just one more chapter!" The chapters are two to three pages long, but just one more leads to just one more, and then one more, and one more...
The miniseries are not as good but do some justice to the work, although one would probably spend less time reading the books than watching the films.
on June 2, 1998
What a perfect series! I have read and reread this incredible book, always ending up giving my latest copy to a dear friend or family member who needs to be reminded of how magical and fateful life can really be. After reading the books the first time in college at The University of Texas at Austin, I now find myself living in San Francisco. Armistead Maupin characterizes the many people (straight and gay) who fill this incredible city so perfecly, you will swear he's writing about people you know. If you haven't ever seen the PBS movie version of the first book, buy it here on Amazon. It's equally wonderful!
on April 5, 1998
"He's not gay", and you need not be either to enjoy Armistead Maupin's "28 Barbary Lane, The Tales of the City Omnibus, Volume One". It is one of the few books that I have ever seen that transcends sexuality issues and is entertaining and lovable at the same time. Maupin takes a group of oddly matched tenants and a mysterious landlady and mixes it into the most interesting book I have read in years. My eyes were drooping at 2 AM, but I kept on to find out what happened next to the motley group. There are elements to suit anyone's reading preferences: Several mind-tingling mysteries and puzzles, romance galore (both straight and gay), a commentary on the state of our country (from many points of view), and a chance to absorb an interesting account of events during a period of American history that hasn't been taught in school. This is a wonderful book for anyone, and it would be especially good for a reading group looking for a book to stimulate discussion.
on March 16, 1999
The entire collection of the Tales of the City Sreries is just too addiciting. I found myself saying "just one more chapter" even though is was 1:00 in the morning. The book(s) are cleverly written, and have several one liners that make you laugh out loud.. I whole-heartedly reccommend this book to anyone who loves a good soap opera with a "family" twist.
As a young kid, I ate these books up. I so wanted to go live in San Francisco and meet the wonderful, wild, funny and crazy people that populated these books. For all of the sex and "perversion", there's a wonderful innocence to these stories- the good guys prevail and the baddies get their just desserts. It also helps that, in addition to being a master of plot, Armistead Maupin writes excellent dialogue.
By the end of these three novels, you will really care about the main characters. It's a big letdown that, in the next three books, the real-life 80's have to intrude on the frothy 70's fun, much like it did in our lives.
Truly one of the must-reads of this century (and yes, I know exactly what I am saying), this six-book series will make you laugh, have you on the edge of your seat, and finally, make you weep.
This collection of Maupin's first three novels of his Tales series is wonderful! I got into this after reading the last in the series, not realizing that there was a beginning to the ending that I read. And what a wonderful start to such great, in-depth characters. There may not be great plots or "conflict" like other novels in this book, but just several people living their lives. These characters could be anyone, and as I kept reading found that they probably would be people I'd want as friends/neighbors if they were real. Maupin weaves in pop culture and current events (now history since this starts in the 1970's) to make this all the more realistic. This is a collection that can be read over and over... you will never get bored of it!
on May 29, 2001
I'm almost done with this book and I am procrastinating...I DON'T want it to end! Every character, every story, everything is extrodinary in these pages! Mary Anne, Brian, Mona, Mrs. Madrigal, and especially Michael (Mouse), have become my new best friends. I love listening to them talk, I love the little private jokes that I am a part of, I love their sense of humor and their quest for love, but most of all I love the bond of these characters to eachother; and to me!
The stories seem to flow together, pushing you to read the next chapter to find out what happens, and then the next chapter and the next and so on and so on...it's amazing that you CAN'T seem to put the book down, and it's a BIG book.
I'm a product of the Seventies, ie. I was a teenager in the 70's, and I loved all the 70's cliches, remembering what was happening in that decade in the news, with music, and even the products that were popular then, I found myself outlining all that was familiar to me then so I'd never forget :) . The ease with which we lived our lives thinking that we were indestructable and the only thing we had to worry about was finding the right "someone" to share it with...before AIDS, before addiction was an epidemic, just a little pot and someone to love and we were just fine. Then the 80's and life gets more complicated and alot more scary. This is truly one of the finest books ever written, with some of the nobelest and bravest and most lovable people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting! Thank you Mr. Maupin, Thank you, thank you, thank you! Debbi