logo: 28Barbary.com - a blog about Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin

August 14, 2022
Why am I writing this blog?

TAGS: #general

For my first post, I thought I would share a little bit about why I’m writing this blog.

1. We are living in the era of fandom. Fans of sports have long been accepted socially, but more and more, fans of genres like Science Fiction, Fantasy, Comic Books, and Manga are not only speaking up, but also being taken seriously in our culture. I see no reason that TOTC isn’t receiving this same kind of treatment.

2. I grew up in Oklahoma and received a sub-par education on history, particularly for anything from the 1970’s onward. Reading TOTC has filled in many of gaps of cultural understanding and I think has the power to do that for others, particularly when considering the stories of Gay Liberation, and the AIDS epidemic.

3. I am a faithful listener of the Judaism Unbound podcast, which explores creative approaches to Jewish culture and practice. In that podcast, one theme comes up again and again; that we can and should see other texts (beyond just the so-called Five Books of Moses, or even the Bible as a whole) as worthy of serious engagement, study, and commentary.

For me, TOTC has been a part of my personal canon of inspirational and thought-provoking reading for a long time, so I want to share my own interpretative voice to the conversation.

4. As literature, TOTC fills a unique spot, in that It was: (a) one of the first serialized novels of the modern era, (b) the first major book to openly discuss the AIDS epidemic, (c) it featured one of the most memorable and loved transgender characters in literary history, and (d) it arguably outed Rock Hudson. But the books are also crisp, easy to read, and inventive ---- because what other author besides Armistead Maupin can get away with writing one novel in a 9 volume (and counting) series in first person, while writing the others in third person?

5. The characters are so relatable. I’ve seen myself and the members of my own family (both logical and biological) through these characters. Certainly the issue of the sexual orientation and identity of the characters is a relevant factor (and shared with honesty), but at the same time the characters were shown as not just being gay, or being trans, or being anything else. For that matter, even the villains (with a few notable exceptions) often have endearing qualities. Reading about these characters has made them come to life for me, so much so that I sometimes think “what would Anna do in this situation” or “how can I break out of my routine like Mona did,” or how one can recognize a toxic relationship that has outlived in worth?

6. Most importantly --- TOTC changed my life, but I will save that for another blog post, except to say that the books have taught me so much about how to be a human and how to be comfortable in one’s own skin.