Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Friday, September 24, 2010

Further Tales of the City–Armistead Maupin

I read the first installment to the Tales saga many years ago, I don’t even remember much of it. Tales of the City was one of the first few books I bought from the previously owned books section of the National Book Store. Where’s that copy? Hopefully it’s still around because I’d love to read it again.

Further Tales of the City is the third book in the series. I wasn’t fortunate to find a copy of the second (More Tales of the City), so I felt a bit out of the loop in parts of the story; that’s not because of the story-telling, it was more me being curious about what had transpired since the first book.

Further Tales is still about the habitants of 28 Barbary Lane. Is there a Barbary Lane in San Francisco? It would be cool if there was, and people could visit the famous address. Haha. So yes, Tales is a tapestry of their lives, interwoven. Mrs. Anna Madrigal is their matriarch, not by blood, but by association. She’s the landlady and she treats each of her tenants like her children. I remember her sweet affair with tycoon Edgar Halcyon from the first book. Oh and yes, she grows varieties of marijuana in her garden.

Mary Ann Singleton, who came to SFO from Cleveland, works in daytime television. But what she really wants is to be in news. She wants to be a real journalist. She’s involved with Brian Hawkins, a fellow tenant, who used to be a lawyer until he quit to become a waiter. The couple is very good friends with another tenant, Michael Tolliver, and they joke about being a threesome. Michael, or Mouse to his close friends, is part of a gay chorus and has an active social life. He is, however, looking for love.

Further Tales gives us another glimpse into their crazy lives. Mary Ann is contacted by the widow of her former boss and gives her the story that might just be her ticket to primetime news. But more than just feeding her journalistic instinct, she finds a new friend and a thrilling adventure. While she chases a psycho all the way to Alaska (and even Russia), her family at Barbary Lane cover for her and even commit a criminal act!

It’s a wonderful read, and takes us to a very colorful time. One would have to keep an open mind too should you wish to read the book as it has themes that may make others, even in this age, feel uncomfortable (not me though Smile).

Did you get to see the miniseries based on these books on TV in the ‘90s? I’d love to find copies of the TV show.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Boy Who Changed The World by Andy Andrew

“I want to tell you a story about the boy who changed the world”

This is a line that’s been repeated over and over in this book by Andy Andrew. It tells the stories of Norman, Henry, George and Moses. Little boys who decided to do something, each in his own capacity, that would eventually change the world.


It’s a book meant to be enjoyed by children, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t like it too! Smile There is art in all its pages, from corner to corner. The prose is also very simple and straight forward, very much how one would go and tell a child a story.

But the true gem in the book is in what it tried to illustrate in the story of the four boys: one’s decisions, and actions affect that of the other, and so on. That every little thing YOU do matters:

“what you did yesterday, what you do today, and what you
do tomorrow. God made your life so important that every
move you make, every action you take, matters . . . and not
only for you or the people around you. Everything you do
matters for everyone and for all time!'”

Indeed, it’s an important lesson that everyone must learn. The earlier kids know about it, the better. Go ahead and tell them about Moses, who cared for George, who grew up to teach Norman about plants, who grew up to work for Henry, who had the idea of super plants to feed the hungry.

And believe it because it’s true, YOUR kid can be THE kid who changes the world!

The Boy Who Changed The World is available from Amazon.

Thank you Booksneeze for giving me an advance copy of the book to review.