When I first learned there was a forthcoming installment of Tales of the City, I was thrilled. Seriously, this is one of my favorite series ever written. Learning that The Days of Anna Madrigal would be the final book in the series broke my heart. Of course, the series can’t go on forever, and we, as readers, are always welcome back to Barbary Lane by re-reading all of the books. The previous two books in the series, Michael Tolliver Lives and Mary Ann in Autumn, revisited the beloved characters, bringing us up-to-date on their lives more than twenty years after we met them.--Joe is one of our most beloved alumni, having moved to a farm to grow his own veggies
In The Days of Anna Madrigal, the story is centered on the titular character, determined to make peace with her past in her waning days. Unlike the other books, more of this story is told in flashbacks to Anna Madrigal’s days as a youth in Winnemucca, Nevada. We meet her first love and get a glimpse of life growing up in a brothel. Brian Hawkins returns to San Francisco to take Anna to Winnemucca to come to terms with her past. Meanwhile, Michael Tolliver, his lover Jake, and Brian’s daughter, Shawna, are headed to a different part of the Nevada desert for the Burning Man festival. Armistead Maupin still tells his story in short chapters, and he winds his two storylines together with seamless ease. Maupin has been telling us this story for over thirty years, and the story is just as ahead of the times as ever. Anna Madrigal surrounds herself with what she calls her “chosen family” and that family has expanded as many do, introducing new characters on the edges of the story.
Knowing this is the final book in the series, I read it as slowly as I could, savoring the bittersweet story the whole way. Maupin made me laugh, made me underline and dog-ear pages, and made me cry. Turning that final page, having said goodbye to these characters I have known my entire adult life, felt like stepping out on your own, knowing the folks who’ve raised you did their best, and their best was fantastic. I will miss Anna Madrigal, Michael, Mary Ann, Brian, and the rest of the gang from Barbary Lane. Armistead Maupin, thank you for bringing them into my life!" ~Joe
In this ninth volume, Armistead Maupin brings his Tales of the City series to a close. The first three books describe 1970s life in San Francisco, the eponymous City, in all its glorious diversity and unconventionality, introducing us to a charming cast of characters. The second three, by necessity, deal with the changes wrought by the onset of the AIDS epidemic, although there are plenty of other things happening in its midst. After a hiatus, Maupin writes in the last three books about aging and mortality, while introducing us to some younger new characters. The Days of Anna Madrigal is simpler in some respects than the other Tales. Two groups of characters follow contemporary journeys which diverge and then reconverge at the end, alternating with a third flashback storyline, revealing information about Anna's pre-transgender youth. Readers of the series will not be surprised that after a close call in the last book, Mary Ann in Autumn, Anna realizes and accepts that she's winding down, and wants to take care of some unfinished business while she can. This is a loving and respectful sendoff for a wise character we've admired along with her fictional "logical family." When I closed the book, I wished it had been a little longer. There's probably a metaphor there." ~Hank--Hank has been a Tattered Cover jack-of-all-trades for 2 decades, now retired—but not from reading
Indie Next ListFebruary 2014
Maupin's Tales of the City series has enchanted many over the years. At the center of its fictional 'logical family' - the family you get to choose -- is Anna Madrigal, now 92, a bit unsteady on her pins and frail but still the anchor of this quirky, lovely group of people. As time goes on, Anna feels the need to revisit Winnemucca, Nevada, the home of her youth, to acknowledge her past and secrets too-long hidden. As luck would have it, familiar characters Michael, Ben, Shawna, Jake, and Amos are also heading into the dry flats of Nevada for the Burning Man festival. It is always a treat to read about this community, where what you are does not matter nearly as much as who you are. -- Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR
Now ninety-two, Anna Madrigal, the transgender landlady of 28 Barbary Lane, has seemingly found peace with her "logical family" in San Francisco: her devoted young caretaker, Jake Greenleaf; her former tenant Brian Hawkins and his daughter, Shawna; and Michael Tolliver and Mary Ann Singleton, who have known and loved Anna for nearly four decades.
But some members of Anna's family are hitting the road, bound for Burning Man, the art community in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. Anna herself has another Nevada destination in mind: a lonely stretch of road outside of Winnemucca where the sixteen-year-old boy she once was ran away from the whorehouse he called home. She journeys into the dusty, troubled heart of her Depression-era childhood to unearth a lifetime of secrets and dreams, and to attend to unfinished business she has long avoided.
The Days of Anna Madrigal is the triumphant resolution to a saga of urban family life that has enchanted and enlightened readers around the world since 1976.