Tag Archives: Tales of the City

A Little Book Told Me So…

24th March 2012

I am so very excited to bring you the newest feature here at The Picky Girl: A Little Book Told Me So. You send in your questions (anonymously if you choose), and we’ll see what bookish advice we can come up with just for you. Don’t want to leave a comment? Just email thepickygirlblog@gmail.com. Chime in each week if you have advice of your own or just want to commiserate.


Dear Picky Girl/Bookish Advice Giver,

My son, age 27, is a college graduate but has been unemployed for a year and living at home for three years. (Unfortunately, he was a journalism major.)I have been accused by Dad of enabling him and just recently told Sonny that he has to start paying rent on 4/1/12. He sits at the computer from 11-5 every weekday, but what he actually accomplishes is uncertain. Any advice for me?


Too Nice Mom


Dear Too Nice Mom,

Oh honey. This one stumped me until I realized what you really need. You need a swift kick in the pants. A soft one, maybe with the house shoes your man child is wearing while you’re working. This is as much about you as it is about Sonny. Have you read Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City? This doesn’t sound exactly like you, but maybe it will make you laugh a bit:

Mom, I’m not coming home.

Mary Ann, you can’t just…run away from your family and friends to go live with a bunch of hippies and mass murderers!

You’ve been watching too much TV.

Ok….then what about The Horoscope?


The Horoscope. That crazy man. The killer.

Mom….the Zodiac.

Same difference.

You have the opposite problem. No worrying about The Zodiac. Your son’s home and under your care. He’s home, and it’s nice to still have your family together. He’s home, and the laundry piles up, and he’s playing Oregon Trail or Doom all day on the computer. He’s home, and suddenly the refrigerator seems to have a faster diminishing return on milk. The thing is, that resentment… “he sits at the computer from 11-5 every weekday, but what he accomplishes is uncertain” will eventually take over your relationship. For your relationship and for your husband’s (and your own) sanity, give Sonny his own kick in the pants. He’s on the computer all day? Bookmark monster.com and Hot Jobs.

Plus, maybe he needs some help. Unemployment is rough. It’s depressing (thus the mind-numbing computer all day), and it can be super hard to motivate yourself when you’re not seeing any results. Hand him the book Drop by Mat Johnson, about a 31-year-old who finishes college and goes on a crazy ride to find a job he loves. Tell him his job is finding a job. Sometimes that requires a little footwork. Set up a timeline for your expectations regarding his independent living situation *clears throat* end date of crashing at Mom and Dad’s.

Mary Ann, at one point in the book, decides she’s going home to Cleveland. She’s made a mistake in San Francisco, and that mistake glares at her, and she gets down on herself and wants to pack it in. You’re Sonny’s Cleveland. You’re safe, but as Mary Ann’s friend Michael tells her, “You’ve got to make things work for you. When you’re down to the seeds and stems, get out there and grab life.”

Simple as that, Too Nice Mom, and I promise you can let him do that.

   Hugs and Air Kisses,

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

10th August 2011

Have you ever had a book on your radar for years and years before you finally picked it up? Not one you are hesitant to read, but one you just seem to always miss out on? Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City is that book for me. I absolutely love the cover on this book and remember spending time in Barnes & Noble as a broke undergrad, reading the first couple chapters of this book. The wonderful Erica from Harper Perennial who also runs the blog The Olive Reader sent me a copy of this book for her Tales of the City Read Along, and I enjoyed every minute of reading it.

Tales of the City is a look at San Francisco in the 70s. Maupin introduces his cast of characters with Mary Ann, the naive, quiet young girl who leaves Cleveland to visit San Fran and decides to stay when she finds an apartment at 28 Barbary Lane, where most of the characters live or have lived at some point. Then there’s Michael “Mouse,” a young, closeted gay man, trying to find love in the ever-changing gay club scene. Anna Madrigal is the landlady at 28 Barbary Lane, and she’s fun and a bit odd, leaving joints on the tenants’ doors when they first move in and caring for her pot plants, fondly naming each. Every short chapter is told from a different perspective, and Maupin often leaves a chapter with a surprising revelation. As Tales of the City was originally a newspaper serial, I can tell readers probably stayed hooked.

Even though it deals with death, sexuality, parent-child relationships, and infidelity, Tales of the City is a really fun read. It feels familiar in the telling, and there’s a mystical element to it as well, as 28 Barbary Lane seems to pick its tenants, but I think I’ll have to read on to find out more. In a sense, it’s kind of like really good (but harmless) gossip seeing who is dating whom and who is cheating, loving, drugging, drinking, and all sorts of other scandalous things.

Plus, if you like Tales of the City, there are plenty more books where that came from: More Tales of the City, Further Tales of the City, etc. Don’t you just love it when that happens?

Read this: like really good chocolate. You won’t want to stop at one piece.