Friday, August 10, 2007

Book Review: Michael Tolliver Lives

I was 19 when I first read the Tales of city series. For me it was like nothing I had ever read before. I loved all of the characters, and how their lives intertwined in such a lovely way. How they all were dancing to the same tune…just in different dance halls across the city. Almost a San Francisco symbiosis.

That was almost 15 years ago. When Eddy ( recently recommended this book for me I became quite excited. As a huge fan of Tales of the city it was the first book in ages that I actually rushed out to purchase for my reading pleasure (ok after the last Harry Potter novel).

Armistead Maupin continues the city tales after a break of more than 20 years...this time only focusing on Mouse - Mr Michael Tolliver. He's 55 now and alive, living with HIV and still being a big queen – or in Mouse’s eyes – a big Nellie/Mary/Fag.

Unlike the other novels this book is only from his perspective. Yes other characters are there but not like before. I don’t know if Armistead changed his writing style in the post AIDS world or has purposely decided not to use the usual format of inter-related stories/lives/characters. To be honest I was actually surprised that he even wrote this novel after a 20 year break – I thought he would have left this all behind (whether he produced this from his own doing or it was a requirement in a contract I don’t know) but the edge that Tales once had is lost – I don’t think it’s to do with his writing however more so a reflection of society in 2007.

Still though it’s a fairly good read. I like the fact the some of the old characters come back in…even though a few more have been killed off. And I do like the overall comment Armistead has made about gay life, getting older and the world today from an old 1960's baby boomer radicals perspective. For me it still hasn’t answered entirely the question of what happened to ? the many colourful and rich characters he created. Rather it’s a commentary of how the remaining have survived in a very different post-9-11-Bush-for-president-world to when they met and became family.

Three and a half hearts out of five.


Anonymous said...

I think Armistead Maupin is here for the melbourne writers festival. May or may-not be interesting to hear his reading....

thanks for the review of the book!

simon said...

well written, affectionate, and interesting blog.

if you ever get the chance, come visit me



my blog is (not as menacing as it sounds :-) )