Tall Tales: San Francisco in the ’70s.


I did it again – one day, one book. This time it was Tales of the City, by Armistead Maupin. I started it at 5:00pm on my commute home from school (I ride BART), and almost didn’t set it down again until around 1:00am when I finished it.

It’s the story of San Francisco in the 70’s – a San Francisco I definitely don’t know. While some of the haunts, the neighborhoods, and the types of people are still very much around, whole other sections of high society, hookup centrals, and traditional man clubs surprised me. It was a delight to read. Maupin’s characters are flawed, some to the point of being unsympathetic, but that makes them charming. They have flocked with their imperfections to this city of supposed acceptance, and now most of them are just trying to get by and get some. His cutting wit and brilliant dialogue makes the book run along swiftly, with me just trying to keep up.

I haven’t ever actually lived in the city, instead commuting over from Oakland, Berkeley, and Albany (I’ve lived in all three locations) to work, shop, go to school, or simply wander around. Sometimes I feel that I miss the real flavor of San Francisco because of it. Sometimes I think the ‘real’ flavor is no longer what it used to be, that it vanished sometime after the liberal heyday of the 70s and 80s, burst like the economy. Most probably it’s because I’m a somewhat introverted individual, so perhaps I can only read about these crazy escapades as opposed to seeing or experiencing them in action. Don’t get me wrong, craziness and San Francisco still go hand and hand, but it’s a different type of crazy.

Anyway, if you would like a good, easy, friendly read, about a city you may think you know, or want to make acquaintance with, pick up Tales of the City. It’s well worth it. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!!!!


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