Volume five of Maupin's affectionate gay sitcom (Tales of the City,
More Tales, etc.) sends the by-now-familiar San Francisco crew up
to the Russian River for some country R&R. AIDS casts the one
dark shadow - this time straights are hit - but otherwise this
spoof on California mores and trends remains a skillfully light, if
unsurprising, page-turner. The guest star is the very large model
Wren Douglas, America's favorite 200-pound sex object, who arrives
in S.F. on a book tour to appear on Mary Ann's (a series regular)
TV talk show. Suffering tour burnout, Wren sneaks up to the woods
as a paid concubine for 71-year-old "aluminum honeycomb" magnate
Booter Manigault, who is at an exclusive camp for some Republican
male bonding, Unknown to Booter, however, his lesbian
daughter-in-law is downriver with her lover and children (Maupin
does overwork his lesbian separatists as goose-stompers material).
Also in the neighborhood is series mainstay Michael, or "Mouse,"
who comforts straight friend Brian (Mary Ann's househusband), who
fears he may have AIDS from a now-dying mistress. Maupin stocks the
book with reassuring what-are-friends-for conversations. The story
peaks with Michael falling in love with an out-of-town visitor
while on an amusing manhunt for Booter, who's held prisoner by a
Wimminwood extremist, a Stayfree maxipad taped over his mouth.
Trends move faster than writers and publishers, of course, so some
targets are dated here, but, all in all, there are more hits than
misses. Maupin fans, in any case, should be happily satisfied.
Tranquillity reigns in the ancient redwood forest until a
women-only music festival sets up camp downriver from an all-male
retreat for the ruling class. Among those entangled in the ensuing
mayhem are a lovesick nurseryman, a panic-stricken philanderer, and
the world's most beautiful fat woman. Significant Others is
Armistead Maupin's cunningly observed meditation on marriage,
friendship, and sexual nostalgia.
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