Just back from the second proud pages meeting, and I would never have guessed that Tales of the City would have split the group in the way it did. Before I get to the discussion, I must thank Paul Mitchell for making use of the chalkboard and drawing a scene of (SPOILERS) DeDe at the fat camp thinking of the boy who delivered her bananas who might be the father of her unborn child.
Its fair to say people had strong opinions of this book. At the end we all gave the book a score out of 10, and while the average score was 5.5, this middling score doesn’t represent the range from 2s to 9s. The positives included the way the book represented the family we choose rather than the family we are born into, and the witty lines such as “the room was so still that Michael could hear the hair growing on Brian’s Chest.” The book was originally written as serialised stories in the San Francisco Chronicle. Some felt that this contributed to the book feeling quite ‘bitty’ with a little character or plot development. Having said that some people likes the episodic style. Negative comments included “I didn’t get it”, “it’s insipid”, “It left no lasting impression”, “I’m looking forward to forgetting it”. A few people commented on how dated it felt, and how poorly treated issues of paedophilia and ethnic definition were treated.
Paul A, gave us an insight into living in San Francisco at the time, with people chattering on the sidecars wanting to know the details of the latest instalment. While I agree with many of the criticisms raised tonight, I personally love the book because it can quickly describe a scene and whisk me away to Barberry Lane.
Life would be boring if we all had the same opinions, and it was a great friendly group. I hope everyone enjoyed tonight as much as I did, even if they didn’t enjoy the book.