Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book five: Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin.

Dear Armistead Maupin,

Could you please hurry up and write the next book in your Tales of the City series?  Because I loved revisiting all my favorite, returning characters in Mary Ann in Autumn. I've grown to love all your characters.  I'd argue that Anna Madrigal is one of the 20th Century's strongest, best-written female characters. And how can you not be charmed by Michael Tolliver; I feel like I've grown old with him and his delightful, younger boyfriend Ben. And then there's Mary Ann. I can't believe how good you are at writing her dialogue. I don't even have to be told she's the one speaking; I can tell just from the voice.

Also, would it hurt you to make the next book a little longer.  Because every time I read one of your books, it seems I just get started and suddenly it's over.  Maybe that's because no one ends chapters like you do, with brilliant short sentences that wrap it all up with witty observations.  At the same time, those jewel-like statements make it impossible to not read on.  It makes for fast, fun reading.

Mary Ann in Autumn also delivers on some of my other favorite Maupin devices.  Like the reappearance of forgotten.  It's amazing you can bring back a character introduced in the first book, and make him or her thrillingly relevant to the current story. Sure you're stories have a soap-opera quality to them.  But a comparable soap opera would need to be directed by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock.

One suggestion: If you're going to introduce a Mormon missionary as a character, you might want to get someone like me to give you a quick primer on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Because your take on Mormonism is wildly off; at least it makes for a good laugh.

Mary Ann in Autumn isn't the best book in the Tales of the City series.  But it's still one of the most rewarding novels I've read in a long time.  I can hardly wait for the next installment.


A big Tales of the City fan.

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