First book in the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. Mary Ann Singleton, a dorky gal from Cleveland, comes to San Francisco on holiday and likes it so much she decides to stay. After being driven mad by the Pet Rock-owning ditzy schoolfriend she's staying with, she moves out into 28 Barbary Lane, a funky old house owned by Anna Madrigal, a cool old lady who grows marijuana in the back garden and tapes neatly rolled joints on her tenants' doors. The story is basically a slice of the life of Mary Ann in the city, and of her room-mates, Michael 'Mouse' Tolliver, Mona Ramsey, and Brian Hawkins, and how they become friends - and of the city itself, which is so well-written about it made me go there. It's also a cultural mine of information about homosexuality, loneliness, the Seventies and Eighties, famous local celebrities, and a whole host of things that make it brilliant reading.
Also the main title for the whole series of books, six in total, which were originally serialised in the San Francisco Chronicle. Two TV mini-series have been produced, taken from the first two books - but take no notice of that, the books are soooo much better..


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