17 January 2011

More Tales of the City

After reading the first book in this series I thought I'd give the others a go, over time. Then I saw the television version -which helped me understand the book better- and prematurely discovered one character's secret. This meant, as I said in my post on 13th December, I had to read the next one. And now I have.

More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
I read this book very quickly. It isn't large and has fairly short chapters, plus the writing contains very little filler and is somehow conducive to quick reading. However the main reason I read the book so quickly, at times ignoring piles of comics to keep reading, is that it was just so compelling.

The story starts a couple of months after the end of the first book. The cast returns, and some new characters are introduced. Again I found that some of the US 70s references went over my head, but I think I'd picked up a reasonable amount from the previous book. Plus the writing is such that the tone of dialogue perfectly is clear even if the specific reference isn't familiar. At least I've heard of Candace Bergen and Eva Gabor, even if my idea of them is several decades ahead of that in the book. Given my lack of interest in celebrity culture I might be equally clueless reading a modern novel with too many contemporary references.*

Knowing part of the plot actually wasn't a problem. The reveal comes fairly early on, and knowing about it meant that I could see how the author built up certain situations and I could anticipate what would happen. If timed well anticipation of upcoming scenes or situations can be a powerful thing in a book, it's how a book retains its re-read value.
There were other mysterious plot elements. Most prominent was the one surrounding the missing memories of an amnesiac character, which led to some self-conscious, amateur detective work by some of the returning characters. There were also several fairly dramatic events, which I won't spoil, but which tugged at the emotions.

There didn't seem to be as many loose ends at the end of this book. I'm not sure how closely the next one will follow on, but as long as the characters and the writing remain at the same standard I'll be happy to read.

* Many adverts have 'famous' people in them, but half the time I assume they're ad actors because I don't recognise them. That group of mates playing together on the Wii ad, turns out they're a band! I also forget that a lot of music in adverts comes from popular songs, so then I get confused when I hear 'that ASDA song' playing on a pub jukebox.

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