Tales of the City
Tales of the City is the story of Mary Ann Singleton - who moved to San Francisco in the '70s and found an apartment on Barbary Lane. It came with a cast of wildly divergent characters and their adventures lift the fog that rolls over San Francisco and exposes what goes on underneath. The book came to me from a woman I met in an elevator on the first day of school. My three kids and I were packed in - going down - to begin our new lives in San Francisco where my husband had started a new job. I noticed, weirdly, she also had three kids - ready for school. We silently noted our shared plight and made a date for coffee. I told her I was pouring through guidebooks to learn about the city. She shook her head and said - you must-read Tales of the City." I picked it up. Months later, after I settled my family in Oakland, I invited my Los Angeles book club to our new home and promised them a literary adventure. The centerpiece? Tales of the City, of course!
In San Francisco, in the '70s, people grabbed their San Francisco Chronicle to catch the newest installment of Tales of the City, a serial about life in the city. Armistead Maupin, the writer, said he was coming out to his parents in the course of writing Tales of the City and he wanted to show how much fun he was having living his life as a gay man. The serial morphed into a book, then a string of books, a miniseries, a musical and yet another series on Netflix.
When Armistead Maupin wrote Tales of the City he unwittingly wrote an incredible guidebook to the city of San Francisco. Maupin’s characters mingle with just about every tourist attraction you would want to visit. You'll start at Fisherman’s Wharf and move from neighborhood to neighborhood hitting parks, piers, towers, and the city's time-tested bars and restaurants. But you'll also check out some off the beaten path stops like a church where one character found solace and a cliff where another character, I won’t say which one – vanished. And of course, you'll take a stroll down Macondray Lane the real-life Barbary Lane - following the footsteps of fans who - for decades - have been traveling from around the world do just that.