Friday, December 10, 2010

Significant Others

Five down and one to go in Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City" series. The latest installment "Significant Others" turned out, for me, to be very entertaining. From Goodreads:

"Tranquillity reigns in the ancient redwood forest until a women-only music festival sets up camp downriver from an all-male retreat for the ruling class. Among those entangled in the ensuing mayhem are a lovesick nurseryman, a panic-stricken philanderer, and the world's most beautiful fat woman. Significant Others is Armistead Maupin's cunningly observed meditation on marriage, friendship, and sexual nostalgia."

Very charming, funny, and a little sad, "Significant Others" continues the saga of the residents of Barbary Lane in San Francisco. The novel takes a bit of a detour from other installments by placing most of the established characters, and some new ones, out of the big city on a camping adventure in the great outdoors of the redwoods. I was a little put off by the trek away from San Francisco, just as much a character as any person in the tales, but as I read I grew to appreciate where the story was going.

It's interesting to see Maupin's perspective at the time, the late 60's and 70's where still a clear memory, set against the stark realities of the mid 80's. The subject of AIDS takes a more prominent role in this book as the epidemic continues to build touching all of the characters lives. I also found it interesting that the deaths of so many at the time seem to be relegated to the three H's: homosexuals, hemophiliacs, and Haitians. In fact it is mentioned by one of the characters in the novel that the epidemic of AIDS would not truly be addressed until it started to creep its way into the heterosexual community; how true that was.

Another great and easy read and my favorite in the series probably since "More Tales of the City," or the second book. I really liked the larger inclusion of lesbian characters D'or and De De and the brief romance that Michael shares with a tourist from the south, which became a little heartbreaking when they had to part ways at the end of their long weekend together. Once again, recommended to any and all.

"Stop being sorry." - Thack

"I mean, like when you were a kid, when you knew that Monday was coming, and the clock was ticking away. Saturdays were perfect, because there was Sunday, which was sort of a buffer. But Sundays just got worse and worse." - Michael

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