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Michael Tolliver Lives: A Novel Hardcover – June 12, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Maupin denies that this is a seventh volume of his beloved Tales of the City, but—happily—that's exactly what it is, with style and invention galore. When we left the residents of 28 Barbary Lane, it was 1989, and Michael "Mouse" Tolliver was coping with the supposed death sentence of HIV. Now, improved drug cocktails have given him a new life, while regular shots of testosterone and doses of Viagra allow him a rich and inventive sex life with a new boyfriend, Ben, "twenty-one years younger than I am—an entire adult younger, if you must insist on looking at it that way." Number 28 Barbary Lane itself is no more, but its former tenants are doing well, for the most part, in diaspora. Michael's best friend, ladies' man Brian Hawkins, is back, and unprepared for his grown daughter, Shawna, a pansexual it-girl journalist à la Michelle Tea, to leave for a New York career. Mrs. Madrigal, the transsexual landlady, is still radiant and mysterious at age 85. Maupin introduces a dazzling variety of real-life reference points, but the story belongs to Mouse, whose chartings of the transgressive, multigendered sex trends of San Francisco are every bit as lovable as Mouse's original wet jockey shorts contest in the very first Tales, back in 1978. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Armistead Maupin and his popular Tales of the City series evolved from a mid-1970s column in the San Francisco Chronicle and, over the next decade, attracted a loyal following. Those readers, as well as newcomers to Maupin's fiction, are in for a treat with Michael Tolliver Lives. These loosely connected vignettes benefit from Maupin's engaging voice, though the pacing is a bit uneven in places and plot takes a back seat to well-drawn, likeable characters. Critics inevitable compare the novel to Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones books or Sex and the City, though Maupin generally does it better. First-timers should find the new installment engaging enough to go back to the early volumes.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (June 12, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060761350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060761356
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (243 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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 briefly as a reporter for a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, before being assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. The climate of freedom and tolerance he found in his adopted city inspired him to come out publicly as homosexual in 1974. Two years later, he launched his "Tales of the City" serial in the San Francisco Chronicle, the first fiction to appear in an American daily for decades.

Maupin is the author of nine novels, including the six-volume Tales of the City series, Maybe the Moon, The Night Listener and, most recently, Michael Tolliver Lives. Three miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney were made from the first three novels in the Tales series. The Night Listener became a feature film starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette.

He lives in Santa Fe with his husband, the photographer Christopher Turner.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

145 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Edward Aycock on June 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Maupin's "Tales of the City" novels had an undeniable impact on my life. I was a closeted college sophomore when I checked the first three books out of the Springfield, MA library in the Fall of 1990. I had a feeling I was coming late to the "Tales" party at that point but was instantly taken with 28 Barbary lane and its inhabitants. I was so square at 19 that the thought of a pot smoking landlady made me vaguely uncomfortable; I don't miss those days or my old rigid self. At the age of 22, the landmark PBS miniseries had me spending my tax refund check on a ten day vacation to San Francisco so that I could check out the city Maupin immortalized on my own. Any misgivings about a pot smoking landlady were gone.

So now, thirteen years after I read the last book in the series, I was over the moon to see "Michael Tolliver Lives." But after reading two negative critic reviews, I was worried. Could this book measure up to my memories? Yes, and then some. "Michael Tolliver Lives" is different than the previous novels in the "Tales" series; this is one man's, first person narrative, unlike the multi-character structure of the other "Tales" books. But "Michael Tolliver Lives" is as wonderful, moving and beautiful as anything Maupin's ever written (quick plug for "Maybe the Moon.") Here are the characters we know and love. Times have changed, but Mouse and Brian and Anna Madrigal, the pot smoking landlady (and some others, but that'd be ruining the surprise) are here and take no time making us love them again.

As the title implies, this is Michael's (aka Mouse) tale. Mouse is as sharp as ever and his wry observations make you realize how much you've missed him.
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78 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Jak Klinikowski on June 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If, like me, you're a huge fan of Maupin's TALES OF THE CITY novels, you're probably hoping his latest book is the sequel you've always dreamed of. It isn't. It's much more like a twentieth reunion, allowing brief reconnections with long missed friends, but not the continuation of an old familiar story.

Yes, Michael/Mouse and Anna and Brian are still around, but times have changed and so has the plot. The exciting ironies of a youthful and madly whimsical age have been replaced by a new and more structured reality guided by middle aged commitments and expectations. If the book teaches us one thing, it's that life goes on even if it doesn't go on forever.

Michael didn't die of the plague as most might have thought he would. The AIDS-cocktail saved his life and he's still living in his beloved San Francisco. He's sold his nursery and is now a successful freelance gardener. He has a new husband, Ben, who is 21 years younger. Ben, who Michael first became aware of on a web site for younger men looking for older guys, adores mature Daddies, and Michael has learned to accept the role. Their relationship is open, but they are very much in love and extremely contented.

Michael realizes that he has two different families, the biological one he left behind in Florida many years before, and his logical one, as Anna Madrigal puts it, the one that formed at the legendary 28 Barbary Lane. His biological family has never really accepted who he is and his logical family has never failed to be there to take up the slack.

Unlike the many stories told in the TALES novels, this is primarily Michaels story, one often filled with tragedy, but still optimistic in scope. Michael has learned to appreciate life's little gifts and his existence is a happy one.
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By S. Hammel on July 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As much as Maupin and his publisher would like to position this sequel to the TALES OF THE CITY novels as a free-standing story, it will be most appreciated by fans of the landmark series of novels set in the San Francisco of the 70's and 80's.

While the TALES series juggled characters and points-of-view, the new novel is written in first person from central character Michael's point-of-view, giving it a voice and tone much more similar to Maupin's THE NIGHT LISTENER, especially in that both central characters are clearly stand-ins for Maupin himself. This new novel, however, lacks both the clever, tongue-in-cheek plot twists of the TALES stories and the dark, ambiguous mystery of NIGHT LISTENER.

This is a sweet and touching story and fans of the series will be pleased to have this reunion with Michael Toliver, Anna Madrigal, Brian and other TALES characters. But the story itself falls flat compared to other Maupin efforts and its one nominal twist lacks resonance or impact.

One caveat -- this novel may be as unabashedly gay in point-of-view and sexuality as anything Maupin has written, so readers unfamiliar with Maupin's work who might be uncomfortable with that will be best served by steering clear of MICHAEL TOLIVER LIVES.

All in all, this is a highly readable, if slight, novel best appreciated by those of us who devoured Maupin's TALES novels.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a rabid fan of Maupin's writing, I have read and reread the Tales books over the years. Something about the characters and the story touches me deeply, and the descriptions of the city really bring it alive. But on every reread, I always skipped the last book, because I was so disappointed in the ending - I really felt betrayed by what the characters did, because their actions in the last book didn't seem in keeping with their personalities at all.

So thank you, thank you, thank you Mr Maupin for giving us a more nuanced view of their actions, and giving us an idea of what they are all doing with their lives, after all these years.

The whole cast is here - though Mary Ann, is, disappointingly, across the country and only marginally involved in this story (though we do get some insights into her actions all those years ago) - but Michael, Brian, Anna Madrigal, and a whole cast of new characters are here. I loved the look into Michael's new relationship, into Brian and Mary Ann's daughter's life, and I loved meeting Mrs Madrigal's new friends and seeing the way she is spreading her legacy to a new generation of San Franciscans.

This is highly recommended for fans of the series - but do read all six of the originals before reading this one - otherwise you will have the last books spoiled for you.
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