Madri­gal faces her end of Days

The past re­turns in fi­nal in­stal­ment of Tales of the City

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - MONIQUE PO­LAK

Ar­mis­tead Maupin HarperColl­ins

What could be more pleas­ant than hav­ing a dear old friend back in town? That’s the feel­ing Ar­mis­tead Maupin’s fans will get from read­ing his lat­est novel, The Days of Anna Madri­gal.

This is the ninth and fi­nal in­stal­ment in Maupin’s best­selling Tales of the City se­ries, made even more pop­u­lar by the TV se­ries of the same name star­ring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Lin­ney. Dukakis played Anna Madri­gal, the iconic trans­gen­der land­lady of 28 Bar­bary Lane in San Fran­cisco.

Madri­gal is now 92. No longer a land­lady, she has de­camped to San Fran­cisco’s Duboce Tri­an­gle neigh­bour­hood. She en­ter­tains her many vis­i­tors in her par­lour, where she sets out sherry, short­bread — and mar­i­juana.

When this novel opens, sev­eral of Madri­gal’s friends are plan­ning to at­tend the Burn­ing Man art event in Ne­vada’s Black Rock Desert. Anna is head­ing to an­other part of Ne­vada. Her old friend and for­mer ten­ant Brian and his new wife, Wren, are tak­ing Anna to Win­nemucca, the town where she grew up. Only in those days, Anna was Andy Ram­sey.

Maupin’s story shifts back and forth be­tween the past and the present, in much the same way as Anna’s thoughts.

Dust is an im­por­tant sym­bol in this novel. Though Maupin never in­vokes the phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” from the Angli­can burial ser­vice, it hovers over his story’s sur­face. Dust rep­re­sents both cre­ation and death. Like all of us, though per­haps in a more dra­matic way, Anna has cre­ated her­self. And like all of us, she will re­turn to dust.

The Days of Anna Madri­gal

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