Armistead Maupin | Books | Gay Stories | News

Final 'Tales of the City' Book, 'Days Of Anna Madrigal,' To Be Published Later This Month

MaupintalesIt has been a long road, but Armistead Maupin's classic Tales of the City is coming to an end on January 21st with the publication of the ninth and final book in the series. Titled The Days of Anna Madrigal, the new book ends a literary tradition begun in 1978 as a newspaper serial. Fans of Maupin's work, like blogger Cory Doctorow, are lamenting the conclusion of the beloved Tales, but are also looking forward to reading this final book.

Doctorow, writing for Boing Boing, reports:

I grew up on the Tales books, and when I moved to San Francisco, I was delighted to see so many of the places and scenes from the novels playing out in real life (as I mentioned in my recent review of The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, Maupin's books chronicle an age of personal and political activism that seems unimaginably far behind us today).

The serial format served Maupin well, making for a story that's so compulsively readable by dint of the need to finish each thousand words with a cliff-hanger -- shades of Dickens -- that it's nearly impossible to stop reading them. Each subplot is firmly grounded in its moment, through topical references and subplots revolving around everything from Jonestown to AIDS, that re-reading them is something like inhaling a stack of Doonesbury treasuries.

It's been too long since Maupin gave us another glimpse at Anna and Michael and the rest of the people in the orbit of 28 Barbary Lane. I can't wait to read it (and I dread being finished with it).

The Days of Anna Madrigal will reportedly follow the title character, a 92-year-old, trans woman, as she travels to Burning Man. 

What are your favorite Tales of the City memories and moments? Share in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. I have the first 6 books bound in two hard backs - and I treasure them! Although today, looking back at the near decade I spent living in San Francisco, the city is a much different place. So many of the charming characters in Maupin's tales would no longer be able to afford to live there today.

    Posted by: Tre | Jan 8, 2014 7:06:14 PM


  2. Such amazing characters that deserve a proper HBO miniseries adaptation with a budget and consistency. I love every one of the books. I'l be sad to no longer have another book to look forward to, but we didn't hear from the characters for many years in the past. One never knows!

    Posted by: Alex N | Jan 8, 2014 7:20:23 PM


  3. Perhaps as TRE posted - the places of Maupin's SF can no longer be afforded. The same goes for the author moving to Sante Fe, NM

    Posted by: Clarence Cannot Afford | Jan 8, 2014 7:21:35 PM


  4. Armistead's touring the book and I'm so looking forward to it. I'm going to his Santa Monica talk on Jan 31 where he'll be chatting with Christopher Isherwood's partner, the amazing artist Don Bachardy. I'm not sure why, but I almost see a little of Anna Madrigal in Don Bachardy, so that'll be an interesting dynamic to witness or even ask about.

    My personal story is that when I first met Armistead in the early 90s, I told him how much the books mean to me and that I've always counted Jon Fielding as the first friend of mine who died of AIDS. His characters feel vividly real and authentic and I stand by that feeling today. Armistead said he was flattered that I'd say that. I lost my first real-life friend, Luther, who was also a Tales fan, shortly after Armistead let Jon Fielding go, so that makes the feeling even stronger for me. Can't wait to read these final Tales.

    Posted by: MrRoboto | Jan 8, 2014 7:33:33 PM


  5. When I was still a very closeted, in denial 20-something, a roommate of mine who had figured out my secret tried to draw me out by insisting we watch the PBS miniseries based on the first book. I absolutely loved it, and though it took me nearly another decade to come out, the first book I bought at A Different Light in the Castro (I was on the obligatory first vacation to SF after coming out) was 28 Barbary Lane, a compilation of the first three books. Maupin defined San Francisco for so many of us and though it's sad to think of the series ending, I love that Mrs. Madrigal is still hale and hearty, relatively of course, to continue her fabulous story.

    Posted by: CPT_Doom | Jan 8, 2014 7:43:24 PM


  6. On one hand, I'm sad that Maupin is ending the series. On the other hand, it's been such a gift that he changed his mind and came back to the characters for these last three novels .

    To me, one of the most wonderful things about the Tales is how Maupin decided to age the characters in real time. This does not usually happen with series characters, but here, Mouse and Brian and Mrs. Madrigal have all moved through time along with us readers. That makes them special.

    Posted by: Profe Sancho Panza | Jan 8, 2014 7:50:13 PM


  7. I came out at 30 and my dear friend, who had been out for a while, told me to read the series, "it'll give you a nice history lesson," he said. And it did, and the characters became my friends. I am sad the series is coming to an end, but as Alex N says, "One never knows." Still, I cherish those characters and can't wait to read about them again. Though I imagine I will try to read only a couple of pages at a time. I'm going to try to make it last as long as possible.

    Posted by: Secret Identity | Jan 8, 2014 7:55:14 PM


  8. As bizarre as it seems, See was also hustling on the side, was onto very risky sexual prsctices, and friends and associates were aware of his deteroration and drug abuse. He was also HIV+, and may well have had other afflictions such ad Hep C, etc.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 8, 2014 8:24:45 PM


  9. Michael's letter to Mama is one of my favourite things ever.

    Posted by: mammmab | Jan 8, 2014 8:29:30 PM


  10. The problem is Anna is 92 and it's the last book, so you know she is going to die. I don't want to read that, no matter how good the book may be or cathartic her death may prove. I had to take a break after Jon (Mouse's bf) got AIDS, and I still haven't finished reading all of the books because they have broken up the core group and Mary Ann has turned into a horrible person. I liked the first book, most, when all of the gang was together and friendly. Then reality struck, a little hard. But good to know the story goes on. Maybe one day someone will turn these characters into a full-fledged TV series. There are enough stories told, and enough gaps for writers to be able to craft their own stories, to make a prime time series for years.

    Posted by: macguffin54 | Jan 8, 2014 8:53:05 PM


  11. I've never read these books but I am curious and I think I'll give them a look.

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Jan 8, 2014 11:16:07 PM


  12. I looked forward to Maupin's column in the Chronicle and to sharing it with my friend Karen at work. It was, in many respects, the story of our lives, and unlike a novel, Maupin had no more idea than we of the twists and turns the story would take.

    I understand nostalgia, and the great gift for me of having lived in that place and that time is that I lost the sense I grew up with of having missed the Golden Age.


    Posted by: Rich | Jan 9, 2014 1:01:15 AM


  13. One of my most treasured possesions is my Tales of the City 6 Book set... you know the one... in the slipcover all pastel pinks and greens from the late 80's. I read them once a year, watch the DVDs about the same... it's the family I never had ( take that real family ).

    I prefer the second Michael, I cried when Jon died, I gasped when Dede came back from the dead, I miss the first Mona, I miss Gay skate night, I was in love with the first Brian,...The Blue Moon... Prue...The Styrofoam Cooler.... Edgar ....Skating Nuns, Clip-on ties.


    Norman Neal Williams...( I have one of Stanley's Star Trek tshirts...) RIP


    Laura will always be Mary Ann ( though I do like Cathy )


    Olympia / Anna. try and separate the two..


    I've walked the streets around Russian Hill a dozen times on Google maps, stood at the bottom of the wooden steps. looked up at the iconic sign..

    I met Mr Maupin a couple of years ago... he was on a 'In Conversation With'.. book tour around Australia, I devoured every word during the melbourne show and later for what seems like hours, stood in line to get a autograph, I remember silently rehearsing to myself what I was going to say to him... it was going to be great... a sweeping aural history of how his books have affected me, my desire to live in SF, and an amazing intelligent question he's never been asked before... yes I had a plan. ( I was determined not to sound like a gushing creepy fan who might be a stalker )
    ... finally my time came... I was one person away from him... then there I stood... sweaty palms.. stupid smile on my face... in front of him... he said ' hello there ' of course I froze...tried to speak.. he looked nervous.. he held his hand out for the novel in my crippled sweaty hand... my arm didn't move...I managed to say ' I like your book ' or something that sounded like that... he reached over the table and took my book asked me my name... god knows what I said...and signed it..and that was it ...it was over.. I was led away by a very understanding but firm usher. I stood in the foyer kinda shell shocked, numb and alone...then I went outside on to the street, stood in the rain, smoked a cigarette and cried.

    I too am looking forward to the ( I prefer to say NEW book rather than LAST book... you never know...) book.

    It deserves a place on my special Tales bookshelf.

    Posted by: MichaelGW | Jan 9, 2014 2:25:39 AM


  14. Gosh I hate to correct you but Tales started as a serial in the Chronicle in 1976 not 78. I know because my roommate at the time and I were such rabid fans that on Halloween '76 we dolled up and headed down to Polk Street almost naked except for silver & gold body paint & glitter, which of course was how Amistead's serial killer dispatched his victims.

    Posted by: tritonpsh@aol.com | Jan 9, 2014 2:36:08 AM


  15. Looking forward to this.

    Although the 2 most recent books (Michael Tolliver Lives, and Mary-Ann in Autumn) were nowhere near as compelling as the first 6 books.

    Sadly the San Francisco Maupin describes in the earlier books is now part of history.

    Posted by: MaryM | Jan 9, 2014 3:33:29 AM


  16. While Maupin's writings were always eerily close to the truth, the San Francisco of that time is now a completely fictional memory.

    Posted by: Boone68 | Jan 9, 2014 3:58:28 AM


  17. "Tales" made my hometown of San Francisco so magical and mysterious. Loved the PBS series.

    Posted by: Red | Jan 9, 2014 4:44:21 AM


  18. I had just finished law school, was in the coming out process in Boston, and took an overdue week vacation to Aruba to unwind and do absolutely nothing. With me I took the first four books of the series, having never read them before. For a week I sat in the sun by myself, read those wonderful books, and transformed from a somewhat frightened gay man to an activist. When I returned to Boston I never looked back. I got active in gay politics and used my legal background to advance the cause.

    Flash forward about 25 years and I find Michael Tolliver Lives and Mary Anne in Autumn. My heart leaped. I read both books in the past year, and was transformed back to that younger (thinner) version of myself, just starting out my life as a gay man. I treasured reconnecting with my friends on Barbary Lane. It was a blast.

    So, now as an old(er) married man, I look forward to reading the final chapters. Mouse and I are about the same age (he's a bit older).

    Thanks Armistead Maupin for creating these terrific characters who have remained with me for so many years. I will miss them all.

    Posted by: DC Insider | Jan 9, 2014 9:19:59 AM


  19. Oh my! Legal pot, gay marriage, a black president and a nice pope. If that weren't enough now another Tales. Life is good, oh so very good. Live long Anna. Thanks Armistead!

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 9, 2014 9:27:11 AM


  20. I am straigt but an avid fan of all of Armistead's work.

    I own several sets of the first six and the hard cover and audio books of MT lives and MAryann. I loved listening to Armistead reading Michael Tolliver Lives as it seems to be his life story with some help.

    I have not listened to Mary Ann in Autumn yet but hope to before getting my copy of Lives which my daughter has ordered for me as a Christmas present.

    In visiting San Fran we took a bus tour which passed Armistread road which I assume was named for him.

    Missed the musical by one day when we were there.

    Anyway, I agree that it will be a sad day when the final chapter is read, but one can always go back and reread them. I have faith in Mr. Maupin that the book will truly be a memorable event.

    Perhaps in today's more enlightened society he will get his due for all he has done for the community.

    Posted by: Dan Short | Jan 9, 2014 11:43:21 AM


  21. Very enjoyable comments here. That doesn't happen often.

    I only know the TV mini series. Your comments make me want to read some of the books.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 9, 2014 12:18:11 PM


  22. I reviewed this book for a large retailer and I can tell you it is classic Maupin.

    Good and bad.

    He tries for big dramatic sweep and mostly misses.

    \\\\\\\SPOILERS///////

    Nobody among the principle group dies - though he does his best to bait the issue.

    In fact, this is the perfect book to finish a series that has seen its earlier books pass into history, literally.

    I didn't particularly enjoy it. It is told in flashbacks that don't exactly tell you anything you didn't already suspect. There's also so many characters that I sometimes had difficulty keeping the plot clear (he brings up characters long dead, as if for nostalgia's sake even when they add nothing to the plot).

    And of course, because it is an Maupin book, there are wild and virtually unexplained turns in the plot and unbelievable coincidences.

    But that's fiction for you. At least I hope this was fiction and not the thinly veiled recaps of his actual life that the earlier books were.

    In any case, if you're a fan of the series, it is a good enough read. If this is your first foray into the meleau, I'd skip it.

    Posted by: YSOSERIOUS | Jan 9, 2014 12:27:09 PM


  23. If I hadn't sprained my ankle playing softball in NYC back in 1980, I might never have discovered my favorite books of all time. Succumbing to my injury, I was laid up in my Queens apartment with just the cats and All My Children for daytime company. My friend Mindi called and found a desperately bored person on the other end of the phone. I asked her if she had anything new and different to read. Not being a very avid reader myself, I wanted something that would wake me up, not put me under. She came over with the first two "Tales.." books. "I think you'll like these", she said, "and the humor in them reminds me of your sense of humor". We had both spent summers at SF State University in the mid-70s, and held more than an affinity for the city. I had always had the desire to move there. I finished both books in 24 hours, and so many things about them changed my life. Straight as an arrow I was, and am, but I had always thought I was as accepting and open-minded as any good liberal should have been. How wrong I was. NYC could be alarmingly bigoted at times, and in dangerously subtle ways. I realized if I had further to go, was there any hope for the hopeless? It is the rarest of books that makes you think, feel, care about its characters--almost ALL of them--and most of all, makes you look at the next person on the street and realize that everyone has a story, that almost anyone can be redeemed (I said ALMOST). And that the most incredible connections can come from the most unlikely coincidences. I got a chance to tell the author this--in 25 words or less--at a Noe Valley (SF) booksigning right after "Significant Others" came out. Yes, I had, through a series of events, moved to SF in 1986 to take a job. My Midwestern-born girlfriend at the time (now my wife of 26 years) was "sick of NY and wanted to move back to Ohio (where I'd met her through my brother) if we couldn't move somewhere else". I wasn't aiming for SF. But somehow it found me. Even though we now live in the Santa Cruz area, SF is still dearly missed, but not nearly as much as I will miss "Tales of the City".

    Posted by: Jerry | Jan 9, 2014 1:10:45 PM


  24. More Tales of the City was the first gay novel that I ever read. I was too afraid to even check it out of the library, so I sat in the stacks and gulped it down. (I'd soon read Joseph Hansen and Edmund White the same way, although Maupin's books will always be my favorites.) I've read Days of Anna Madrigal already, and I thought it was a lovely way to end the series - although I'm still hoping there might someday be a novel that flashes back to the classic days... maybe a Christmas story, or the "lost" adventures of Michael and Jon having a Hardy Boys adventure in the catacombs of old San Francisco.... Like many of you, I loved the family created in the early books, but I also very much respect Maupin for showing his character's flaws, and the way time has changed the bonds between them - just like our real lives.

    Posted by: ineffablejoy | Jan 9, 2014 1:25:12 PM


  25. These delightful tales first came into my life when they were originally published. Each time another book was written, I was there to scoop it up.

    They aren't meant to be high literature; rather, they're simply a delightful portrayal of the gay community and what I've heard called the "gay adjacent" community.

    If you don't know them, read the entire set. You just might learn something about SF in the 80's and beyond. You also just might learn something about yourself!

    Thank you for the heads up. I just pre-purchased on Amazon!

    Posted by: Philip | Jan 9, 2014 2:17:59 PM


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