The End of Tales of the City

1.14.2014

By Emily Drabinski

After nearly 40 years, Armistead Maupin is saying goodbye to the Barbary Lane crew

After nearly 40 years, Armistead Maupin is saying goodbye to Anna, Mouse, Mary Ann, and the rest of the Barbary Lane crew in The Days of Anna Madrigal (Harper), the final novel of his hit series, Tales of the City. Sweet, sad, and funny, Days shifts between flashbacks of our trans heroine’s childhood in Winnemucca, Nev., and a present that includes new loves, new babies, and Burning Man. As Tales draws to a close, Maupin reflects.

His Favorite Tales Moment:

“Michael’s coming-out letter to his mother was my coming-out letter to my own parents. It’s hard to imagine now, but when the letter appeared [in 1977], it was shocking for someone to say they were gay, and that it was the best thing that had ever happened to them. It has been the light and joy of my life.”

His Biggest Inspiration:

“Slouching Towards Bethlehem had the most beautiful, musical language I’d read. I wanted to create my own music; when I figured out I couldn’t be Joan Didion, I decided I’d be influenced by her instead.”

Writing the First Tales Book:

“I did it on Rock Hudson’s living room floor. He said, ‘Take the house and get rid of your distractions.’ I had 120 little chapters from the newspaper [that published the original serialized stories] and was mov- ing them around like a Chinese puzzle.”

What’s Next:

“I’m toying with the notion of a really spooky thriller using my current setting: an adobe house at the end of a dirt road surrounded by coyotes and ravens.”

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