Tuesday, April 21, 2015

the last book I ever read (Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, excerpt four)

from Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh: A Biography by John Lahr:

Just before the New Year, Williams moved back to the French Quarter of New Orleans, where he’d begun his artistic adventure in December 1938. Then, Tom Williams had signed himself into a rooming house on Rue Toulouse as “Tennessee Williams, Writer.” Now, his name needed no explanation. “About an hour after my arrival,” he wrote to Wood, “the hotel owner rushed out of his office and seized my hand and exclaimed: ‘Mr. Williams, this is indeed an honor! We saw your play in New York!’” Although he met with three reporters and gave a radio interview soon after his arrival, Williams promised Wood that in New Orleans he was going to have “no telephone and if necessary an assumed name.” He added, “I’m going to be a very serious, hard-working boy again—all else is vanity.” A month later, he wrote to Wood again: “I am switching back and forth between two long plays, the one about the sisters started in Chicago and one about a Spinster begun in New York. Right now I am doing more with the sisters, it is now set in New Orleans and is called ‘A Street-car Named Desire’—there is one by that title that runs close by my apartment, and proceeding in the other direction down the next street is one called ‘Cemeteries.’ In spite of this I am not really in a very morbid state of mind, as this might suggest.” Williams had surrendered to the flesh; his new plays dramatized this capitulation. The ensuing twenty-four-month period would be the most fecund of his writing life.

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