Logical Family

Armistead Maupin is an extraordinary storyteller, and fans of his novels (including the nine-volume Tales of the City saga) will rejoice that he's finally written a memoir. While most of Logical Family focuses on Maupin's youth (or "the thirty-some years it took me to claim my truth"), the action frequently jumps ahead to introduce his husband, Christopher, or to finish up tales about his friendships with Rock Hudson ("buddies with occasional benefits"), Christopher Isherwood, Sir Ian McKellen (the two shared a boyfriend a decade apart) and Laura Linney.

Maupin details his decades-long evolution from being a very vocal, conservative, Southern Republican to an openly gay civil rights activist as "the slow decay of cherished myths--about politics and race, about love itself--until nothing was left but compost from which something authentic could finally begin to grow." In 1976, a San Francisco newspaper hired him to write a fictional column called "Tales of the City" that would run five days a week and 800 words a day. "My heart was in my throat," writes Maupin. "Sometimes I was writing Wednesday's column on a Monday afternoon." But he had found his voice and his audience.

The later pages of Logical Family should be printed on water-resistant paper, as few will be left unmoved when Maupin's father and terminally ill mother visit him in San Francisco the same weekend his friend Harvey Milk is assassinated. This beautifully written and evocative coming-out memoir is audaciously funny, reflective and wistful--and, like Maupin's novels, impossible to put down. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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