Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin

I read Tales of the City and one or more of its sequels quite awhile back, but I don't really think I understood much of it until Michael Tolliver Lives brought some of it into perspective for me. So I was glad I picked up this title.

Michael Tolliver is an aging gay man living in San Francisco. He is also HIV positive, which is why to some of his acquaintances from the past, it is a welcome surprise that he still lives. This book, published in 2007, loosely references characters and events from Maupin's series Tales of the City. At this point though, Anna Madrigal is no longer landlady on Barbary Lane, and everyone is pretty much 20 years older. Michael, or Mouse as he is fondly called, tells the story now from his point of view.

This book is not for the faint hearted. To be honest, I wondered whether everyone in San Francisco all just thought of sex all the time, haha. Or was drugs or marijuana really that much pervasive in their lives. There is also a very racy scene in the novel that might not sit well with a conservative audience. But you can skip that page and move along if you like. The story is a good study on what we consider family to be - more than blood relations, what does it take to consider someone, or a group, to be family? It can be comforting to know that even if one wasn't so lucky to be born in a family they felt they belonged to, they can still find that family somewhere as long as they open their hearts to it.