Michael Tolliver Lives

 

Armistead Maupin

 

Review By Keith Orr

 

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Fans of Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City" series have been looking forward to a new volume for twenty years.  At long last they can catch up on the characters they have known and loved.  During the course of the book we catch up on (or learn the fate of) Brian, Mary Ann, Anna Madrigal, Mona, and more.  The familiar themes of "Tales" will be recognized here as well.  In Maupin's world, the families that gay people make are more powerful than the ones they are born into.  And readers will remember that the matriarch in Michael's family is the now-octagenarian Anna Madrigal.

This is not, however, a sequel.  While the plot of "Tales" was driven by a myriad of colorful characters, this book is Michael's story told in Michael's voice.  As a result it is a more personal novel.  There are two wonderful new charcters.  Ben, Michael's younger lover, and Jake, a transgender helper in Michael's landscaping business.

The character of Anna Madrigal was a groundbreaking transgender character.  Just as she is a product of her generation, Jake is a product of his.  He is a delightful, edgy, and very sympathetic character.  There aren't enough characters like Jake in any fiction, including GLBT fiction.

Michael has survived a plague that has taken many of his friends.  Other characters have succumbed in the twenty years since the last "Tales" book to a variety of deaths.  And in this book he copes with an aging mother (biological), and an aging Anna Madrigal.  In the end, this book is not about death and  dying, but life and living and the triumph of friendship and love.

 

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