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[472] Babycakes – Armistead Maupin

” Michael Tolliver had spent rush hour in the Castro, the time of day when the young men who worked in banks came home to the young men who worked in bars. He watched from a window seat at the Twin Peaks as they spilled from the mouth of the Maui Metro, stopping only long enough to raise the barrels of their collapsible umbrellas and fire at the advancing rain. ” (12)

The fourth book in the series (thankfully) shifts the focus back on Mary Ann and Michael Tolliver who, respectively, experiences relationship mayhem. The previous book–its adventure to Alaska with DeDe’s kidnapped children, is fun but Maupin has outdone himself a bit in the adventure. Yet I recognize the book’s necessity to provide a basis in Mary Ann’s plunge into the media business. In Babycakes, after much effort in making baby has proved to be futile, and Mary Ann hides the fact from her husband that he is sterile, the ambitious career wife, with some egging from her friend Connie Bradshaw, has outdone herself in a pregnancy scheme that involves a British lieutenant stationed on the Brittannia by which Queen Elizabeth sailed to San Francisco.

She turned her head slightly and waved at several people assembled on the street corner. They waved back vigorously, holding aloft a black leather banner on which the words GOD SAVE THE QUEEN had been imprinted in silver rivets. It was not until she heard them cheer that she realized they were all men. (2)

The run-away lieutenant ends up swapping apartment with Michael, who, with a stash of money that is courtesy of Mrs. Madrigal, spends a month in London. The trip is more of a therapeutic nature since Jon Fielding, the gynecologist lover, had died from AIDS three months ago; and Michael has been in a bedlam of grief and aloofness. Least of what he expects is a reunion with Mona Ramsey, who has been in London for the trade of international mail-order brides.

“This marriage. It’s just an arrangement to satisfy the immigration people. So Teddy can get a green card . . . ”
” . . . and wag weenie in San Francisco. ” (185)

The series continues to shine as Maupin takes readers on a heartfelt romp celebrating the hodgepodge of absurdities that make modern romance. His trenchant wit and keen dialogue continue in this installment, offering humorous but also compassionate insight into the human condition. Babycakes is also among the very first batch of fiction that chronicles the arrival of AIDS, which ravaged the gay community.

336 pp. Harper Perennial Paperback. [Read/Skim/Toss] [Buy/Borrow]

3 Responses

  1. I remember the first time I read this, and the devastation I felt at the loss of Jon. I thought Maupin handled it so beautifully. So much like that time period, where it seemed as if folks simply disappeared…

    • I remember reading And The Band Play On and other documentaries, everybody knew someone who died during that period. The local funeral home was working over its capacity to accommodate all the deaths. It was very sad. The loss of Jon Fielding revived that sense of loss.

  2. […] a slightly less rambling and emotional response to Babycakes visit A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook. Who else has read the Tales of the City series, be they in your formative years or not, and which […]

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