Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Winnemucca Woman

Finished Armistead Maupin's More Tales of the City this morning prior to my ultrasound, and again felt the pleasure of enjoying a good read. (Goal is to make it through all 9 volumes before July, but going on Library copies from this point forwad, since I've managed to lose my collection.)

Anyway, while some of the darkness we got a small peak at in the first volume pops up here, it's not nearly as much of a character as it winds up being in later volumes. I mean, really, the worst we get to deal with is the Cannibal Episcopal Cult at Grace Cathedral, and even that is not quite as bad as later events.

We start on Valentine's Day as Michael and Mary Ann make resolutions for their love lives. As it turns out, Mary Ann's boss (who was having an affair with their landlady in the last volume) left her a substantial gift in his will, allowing her and Michael to take an 11 day cruise on the Pacific Princess to Acapulco. Much to the chagrin of new boss Beauchamp, who's busy dealing with the revelation that his wife DeDe is giving birth to twins from a Chinese father. DeDe's mother, Frannie, on the other hand, is dealing with turning 60 when she gets a surprise for her birthday. Mona is having issues with being alone, so she hops a bus to Reno and instead gets suckered in to working phones at a whorehouse in Winnemucca. Brian, now living in Norman Neil Williams's little house on the roof, is busy watching a woman with binoculars in another building. And Mrs. Madrigal remains as she has been, with hers being one of the largest revelations in the book.

On the cruise, Mary Ann meets and falls in love with Blonde himbo Burke, who has amnesia about his 3 years in San Francisco. Michael resigns himself to being alone until he hits the only gay bar in Acapulco and runs into his former lover Jon. Sparks fly, and by the time they reach San Francisco, all of 'em are happily coupled again.

DeDe manages to befriend D'orothea unexpectedly after she leaves Beauchamp. Beauchamp, upset over the scandal of her children hires someone to beat her up to terminate the pregnancy. (The fact he's cruising the bathhouses looking for men is evidently less of a concern to him than his wife's mixed heritage babies.)

Burke, as it turns out, has issues related to his amnesia like a feal of fenced walkways and puking at the sight of roses. He also remembers a strange rhyme in his sleep and recognizes a man with a hair transplant.

Mona, out in Winnemucca, discovers her name in of the books, calls San Francisco, and the big secret comes out. Mother Mucca, nee Mona Ramsay, is her grandmother. Mrs. Madrigal is actually Mona's father (sort of).

Mrs. Madrigal does try to get Mona and Brian together, but the lady across the city causes issues.

Michael comes down with Guillain-Barre and winds up hospitalized while his mother writes him letters about she and her husband joining Anita Bryant's Save Our Children. Which does lead to a very powerful moment when Michael writes home to mom and dad, discussing his own homosexuality. 

By the end, we find out Burke's amnesia was due to trying to break open a story about a cult eating human flesh during Communion, we find out Brian's nightly appointment was actually Mona's mother, we find out what the anagram in Mrs. Madrigal's name is, and we get to see Michael and Jon happy for the moment. (Spoiler: this doesn't last. They're divorced and reconcile in the next book, then Jon dies off page in book 4.) 

While this volume ramps up the soap opera nature of the narrative, it's still so much fun to read.

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