“Michael Tolliver Lives”–even more tales of the city

Maupin, Armistead. “Michael Tolliver Lives”, HarperCollins, 2007.

Even More Tales of the City

Amos Lassen

Armistead Maupin is back and so is “Tales of the City”. I love the books, I love the TV series and after a long wait, we have another volume in the” Tales of the City” series. Maupin says this is not what “Michael Tolliver Lives” is but I say call a dog a dog.

You probably remember Tolliver (or Mouse as he was called) as the cute Southern boy with the great personality. We haven’t heard about him in twenty years. He is now 55 years old and tells us his version of “Tales” from the way he saw things. It was 1989 when we last had a book about 28 Barbary Lane and our familiar cast of characters has aged. Mrs. Madrigal, the transsexual landlady has not changed much—she is still full of life and has a lot of spirit and is still mysterious even though she is now 85. Brian Hawkins is still around too. You may remember him as Mouse’s best friend and a ladies’ man. He now has a daughter who s all grown up and embarking o a career in journalism.

When we left Mouse he was coping with a death sentence from having been infected with HIV. He has a new life now since the drugs are much better and his sex life is better than ever (with the help of Testosterone and Viagra). He even has a new boyfriend, Ben, a younger man.

Mouse’s story is about his finding love with a younger man who is still loyal to Anna Madrigal, a character we all grew to love. Sa Francisco and all of its crazy goings-on still plays a predominant role in the story but we are taken away to Florida where Michael is caring for his other, a dying fundamentalist (can you guess the rest of the


It is so good to be back with the gang from “Tales” and quite frankly I have missed them. 28 Barbary Lane is no longer there but all of our friends from there are just fine and living all over. One of Maupin’s trademarks has survived beautifully and that is his real life points of reference but this time we have Michael Tolliver’s story and eve though he has aged, he is still the loveable Mouse we read about and identified with.

A beautiful thing about this novel is that it is able to stand alone. It isn’t necessary to have read the other volumes in the “Tales of the City” opus but if you haven’t, I bet you will. The familiar faces are here and they come and go in the book but Michael is the focus. There are delightful new characters as well so make room for new friends. Michael’s humanity is what makes him so endearing and Maupin’s clear and very witty writing is what gives Mouse life again. Those little things that happen on a daily basis and the “joie de vivre” of growing older are what make this book so special. It is so good to have both Maupin and Tolliver back. My family seems to be once again be complete.

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