- Paperback: 277 pages
- Publisher: Perennial; Reprint edition (1 June 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780060761363
- ISBN-13: 978-0060761363
- ASIN: 0060761369
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 227 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Michael Tolliver Lives Paperback – 1 Jun 2008
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From the Back Cover
Nearly two decades after ending his groundbreaking Tales of the City saga of San Francisco life, Armistead Maupin revisits his all-too-human hero Michael Tolliver—the fifty-five-year-old sweet-spirited gardener and survivor of the plague that took so many of his friends and lovers—for a single day at once mundane and extraordinary . . . and filled with the everyday miracles of living.
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I bought a "physical" book at one of Maupin's Readings, had it signed, and am now delighted to have it in digital form, so I can highlight and annotate to my hearts content.
An incredible book.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This one's just beyond dreadful, and the underlying message of Michael Tolliver only discovering his self-worth after receiving the love of a younger man is a huge turn-off. Men his age don't count. He himself doesn't count -- until he gets validated by a younger guy. What a message to give the gay world, as if we don't see it day in and day out.
While the younger Maupin wrote about discovering love wherever it happened to be (and in whatever shape it happened to come), this one's writing about potential love all around him but not the right kind of love to his tastes so he's oblivious to it -- the only valuable love is that of a younger man, he seems to be saying).
And then, to make it worse, page after page we have to listen to description after description of what reads like geriatic daddy/son soft-porn that frankly just seems gross and undignified (and I'm 51 and not the least bit prudeish, while Michael Tolliver in the book is 55, and going on and on about his "dick" and the minutiae of sex in painful, endless detail). I don't want to read that, Tales has never been about that, nor do I want to read about meaningless three ways with black men that seem thrown in for no reason unless it's to counter criticism that Maupin seldom features characters of color.
Nobody I know here in San Francisco much cared for this book nor felt it reflected anything to do with the city. I get that we're not living in happy, upbeat, resilient-through-humor times like the 70s-90s now, but there's really no novel here, just a lot of scribbling little episodes loosely tied together in search of a plot (or any meaning whatsoever).
There are little bits of value here and there like the end of life conversion of Michael Tolliver's mother to deciding she doesn't want machines keeping her alive, and the hypocrisy of such people since she was one of the ones against Terry Schiavo being removed from life support. These are valuable things to dramatize here, and there are bits and pieces of this, but again and again it returns to:
- I'm old and wow this hot young guy wants me.
- My dick doesn't work like it used to without pills and isn't it wonderful pills are an option.
- Detailed meaningless sex romps all leading to nothing and reading like soft porn.
I hated this. It was so tedious, even though if you're a fan of Tales you probably should read it anyway since otherwise you won't know things like Mona dying of breast cancer and so on (Mona, as with all the other Tales characters we loved being relegated to a short walk-on and little more.
I literally found myself getting aggravated while reading this at how amateurish the entire book is, and thinking how if it weren't Armistead Maupin, and if this was the first book of a new writer, no one would give it any reverance at all. I'm sorry to say that it's forgettable and tedious and sometimes just plain gross, and even sorrier to report that most of my friends agreed with me.
We WANTED to like this. It just wasn't possible.
Let us try again. When we first meet Mouse he has been free of his Florida, Anita Bryant like family for long enough to have some freedom to be his homosexual self. He is openly gay, not apologetic and not about to let anyone make him feel apologetic. As mature as his self-acceptance is, he is more of a teenager in how operates as a gay person. He is perhaps too determined to not be alone on any given night, too concerned with his image among possible lovers and one almost expects him to play out middle school games by having someone carry messages to a possible boyfriend and checking to see if he likes him first.
One of the strengths of Maupin's characters is that they mature over time. Sometimes characters mature as a result of immediate crises, and sometimes due to the ways that the real world can demand maturation. Over time Michael, no long Mouse to me, will deal with life threatening medical issues with one lone time lover, AIDs as a killer of friends and an immediate threat to his own survival. These things will promote the emergence of an adult man. Michael Tolliver is a likable character, and develops into a better adult.
In Michael Tolliver lives, we meet the fully mature person. He has completed his growth into a responsible adult homosexual man. HIV has him on a strictly regimented life. His relationship with a much your man, Ben is a mature one, peculiar to them but stable, frisky and loving.
There are two clear parts to this book. Michael of California the independent adult and the Michael the son of a right wing family back in Florida. This second part is the majority of the book. Michael and Ben will travel to Florida as his mother is now very ill. If there is going to be a reconciliation it has to be soon.
Yes there are special issued between a conservative family and a politically left gay son. These particulars of these issues are played out. Background to these conflicts is a country not a liberal as the swinging San Francisco of Barbary Lane days. This allows for much of the same sharp humor and insights that are part of the depth of the Tolliver character and the awareness of the author.
As happy as I was to see another volume in the Tales of Books, Michael Tolliver Lives was a letdown. Armistead Maupin writes as well as ever, but there was a darkness and a determination to judge that seems one sided. Michael has cause to insist on his point of view and on his `rightness" I just felt that Maupin rather stacked the deck. Michael is arrayed against a family that comes off as having too few redeeming features. Taken as individuals, they seem to come from the same family but there is too high of a concentration of faults, weaknesses and etc. This may make Michael more sympathetic but it also makes preferring him too easy.
I and most fans of these books already like `Mouse' he did not have to be the only normal one in his family.
As a fan of these books I had to read this one, and my criticism aside it is worth reading. Technically it works as a standalone. To fully understand references and the various secondary characters, one should have read the initial trilogy. This book has a last of the series feel to it, but there is another and I think a better one, The Days of Anna Madrigal.
Be advised. Part of the message of this book is that Homosexuals deserve respect and are everything any human is. This means their personalities and sexuality are matters to be respected. Respect to a writer means having these aspects part of the story. Maupin is never pornographic, but he can be graphic. Michael Tolliver Lives is more deliberately sexual others.