From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, the San Francisco Chronicle did the unthinkable and printed serialized fiction in a major American newspaper. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin featured a cast of characters who embodied the social diversity of the day—they smoked marijuana, were gay or bisexual, had fledgling careers or family fortunes, and managed to trip all over each other in pursuit of the good life. Nothing much was at stake, and the writing was as two-dimensional as a picture postcard, but Maupin understood that San Francisco would be spellbound by a modern fairy tale about itself. Tales of the City was adapted into eight novels, three TV series, and a number of musicals.
Well, they’re at it again. Click City, a new fiction series launched by the Chronicle this week, focuses on the lives of tech millionaires, PR managers, cyclists, and hackers, who live in communes to save on rent. Which sounds about right. It also sounds trivial and on-the-nose and depressing as hell. (Episode 1: “Silicon Valley titan Roger struggles to adjust to his new S.F. digs – and the customs of young Mission dwellers.”) The author, Heather Stallings, is described as a former CPA with experience in investment banking. Maybe forty years from now I’ll be able to enjoy Click City for the light satire that it is. For now, as a local resident, it makes me feel flattened like a postcard.
– Brian Hurley