Monday, May 2, 2011

What I'm Reading - Back to Barbary

After my disastrous reintroduction to the Wakefield twins in that abominable "adult" Sweet Valley book, I looked upon reading Mary Ann in Autumn with some trepidation. This is a follow-up to Armistead Maupin's marvelous Tales of the City series that was set in swinging 70s San Francisco. In college I about inhaled the six novels in a few sittings - some of the books made it to television in miniseries form, yet for some reason I never sought to watch any of them. Which is somewhat odd, because that is how I first came to know of the books - I was a page at the Peabody Awards the year the first series won, and I watched Maupin receive his award.

Anyway, Mary Ann takes out of the 70s and into the present day (if you still have doubts, there are plenty of Facebook and BlackBerry references peppered throughout the story to remind you). Mary Ann, the winsome heroine who moved west on a whim in the first page of the first book, is older, perhaps not as wise, and facing a personal crisis. In San Francisco she finds solace in the only place she's truly called home. Not everybody is back for this latest (perhaps, final?) round of tales - Anna Madrigal is still kicking, and Mouse is there, but others are mentioned in passing or have passed. New characters bring San Francisco into the now - it's sort of like reading Tales the Next Generation, but they are thankfully likable people. An old storyline is also resurrected and concluded - you might have to go back to the first books to jar your memory.

Compared to the Sweet Valley attempt, Mary Ann kicked the Wakefields' collective asses. It's also a book I inhaled in less than a day - Maupin's style remains intact. Definitely a book for fans.

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