Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nair doesn't work for everybody.

I know, I said I don’t do favorites. But for the second time in just two posts, I’m ready to proclaim a favorite. Armistead Maupin is my favorite writer. After reading my third Maupin book, I’m hooked. I recently finished Maupin’s first book, Tales of the City. And it’s about as close to perfect as you can get.

First, a warning: I’ve taken to not recommending books because people get so sensitive. I never know what will offend. So as a warning, this book contains homosexuals, philanderers, druggies, potheads, child pornographers, and adulterers. Don’t read it if you’re going to get all preachy.

With that out of the way, let's talk about the book. Armistead Maupin pens better dialogue than any other writer I've read in a long time. Conversation drives the story. And you just can’t stop reading. The book reminds me that few things are as pleasurable as a great conversation. I'm dedicating myself to becoming a conversationalist. I want to chat with friends and acquaintances in a way that is charming, flirty, honest, emotional, sincere. I want to exit the room with short, carefully crafted statements loaded with intrigue and innuendo.

Then there’s the snappiness to Maupin's writing. Every word matters. There’s no need for embellishment. And that crisp, tight writing is refreshing.

Armistead also uses literary devices that I love. Take for example the way short, smart sentences punctuate the end of chapters. These sentences make it hard to put the book down. Before you know it, you’ve read a dozen chapters. And you still want more. Some of my favorite examples of chapter-ending morsels include:
  • Connie, apparently, was still popular.
  • Taped to the note was a neatly rolled joint.
  • Venus reentering the clam shell.
  • “Tell that to your gynecologist!”
  • “O.K., O.K. So Nair doesn’t work for everybody.”
  • “What else? Sickle cell anemia.”
Each short chapter in Tales of the City is a jewel; a sparkling gem that tells a complete story in just a few pages. And then, all those gems come together to create a tiara, a bracelet, or a brooch that dazzles and delights. And I love the literary bling.