I would have hated Wimminwood. I would totally be on DeDe’s side.

Just another great novel from Amistead Maupin, about the hilarious and heartfelt search for identity in the 80s. The lesbian socialists expelled from Cuba who now live off inherited wealth struggle to find integrity and meaning in a world in which wealth is becoming such a grotesque focus of society.

Mary Ann is embracing being a yuppie and is pretty much blind to the concerns of everyone around her, not in a totally unsympathetic way, but in a recognisably understandable, if still somewhat repellent, grasping for success after the disappointments, stagnations and struggles through the 60s and 70s. Her husband Brian is realising that the thing he sought since the 60s through first sex, then marriage, then fatherhood, still eludes him, and is kind of adrift in an 80s of others’ success and wealth and the raging AIDS crisis.

Michael is dealing with dating while HIV positive. Not that he knows what that means yet. In 1985 they still knew surprisingly little even though thousands of people were dead from it. He describes himself as “antibody positive” which means he’s “been exposed” to the virus, giving him a “10-30%” chance of getting sick. To really experience the full horror of this naive optimism, read And The Band Played On where researchers believe HIV only takes up to 3 years in the system before becoming AIDS in as many as 50% of carriers, only to discover after months and months of work that HIV can be symptomless for almost a decade and that the rate for it developing into AIDS is 100%. The worst thing about reading Mouse’s love story in 1985 is he doesn’t know that the news is going to get even worse.

This is a book showing the childish, light and playful side of a city which had been the centre of hope for so many in the 60s, now becoming a dark and sobering place in the 80s for those grown into their adulthood. The gender-opposite silliness of The Grove and Wimminwood show the ability for the serious struggle for political identity in the 80s to be the adult forms of children’s simple expressions for kinship and meaning. I love the warmth of these books.