When I read the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin, I fell in love with the series’ sense of time and place and the characters that inhabited the books. In recent years he’s revisited the characters with two new books. In between, he wrote the stand alone novel, The Night Listener. This quick, fun read has since been made into a movie (don’t bother unless you’ve read the book and are curious) and the true story that it’s based on has been shown on various night-time news magazine shows.
If you haven’t seen the movie or seen any of the stories, you’re more likely to enjoy this book. Armistead Maupin writes with humor and with emotion and this book has a mystery at it’s centre that will keep you guessing and enthralled. He explores middle age, familial bonds, the nature of storytelling and memory and it takes place in his beloved San Francisco which he evokes so well.
Without giving too much away, the story concerns a fictionalized version of the writer called Gabriel Noone who does a radio show similar to Tales of the City and the shows are serialized like the original series’ novels were. He has also published them in book from. When the galleys of a memoir are mailed to him with the purpose of him writing a book jacket blurb, he is going through a painful split with his lover and decides to read the memoir. He soon meets the writer of said memoir and his life changes in a really crazy way.
If you’ve enjoyed The Tales of the City books but haven’t read this one or avoided it because of Maybe the Moon or the fact that it was made into a movie starring Robin Williams, then avoid this book no longer. There is even a small surprise for Tales fans.
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