cover image Significant Others

Significant Others

Armistead Maupin. Harper Perennial, $9.95 (274pp) ISBN 978-0-06-096126-8

Readers familiar with Maupin's Tales of the City series will greet this latest installment like a welcome visit from old friends. Once again, the action focuses on the misadventures of a cross-section of San Franciscans, who this time take to the country for a late summer weekend in three separate gender-segregated retreats: a gay resort, a lesbian music festival and the infamous encampment of privilege at Bohemian Grove. While the trio of settings couldn't be farther apart in spiritat least on the surfacethey all are within shouting distance of each other on the banks of the Russian River, and the three worlds, inevitably, collide. With its blend of satire, slapstick and melodrama, the novel, which originated as a newspaper serial, is as light as a souffle, although the very real threat of AIDSwhich has claimed one character's gay lover and seems to be closing in on another character, a philandering husband who panics after a brush with illnessgives the story relevance and impact. Maupin writes with a warmth and humor that is sorely missed in some recent gay novels having more overtly literary aspirations; his tales may be sparkling entertainments, but they are lit with a glowing humanity that brings each character to vivid, poignant life. (June)