Wednesday, April 22, 2015

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

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

The first day on the road from St. Louis to Taos, Williams’s car and his body began to break down. He felt stabbing pains in his abdomen. “Jack in Black had come out of the bushes,” Williams wrote. As he continued west, both he and the car grew worse. In Missouri, his pain was diagnosed as cramps and nerves; in Kansas, as low-grade appendicitis; in Oklahoma, as kidney stones. After Williams abandoned his car in Oklahoma and got himself by bus to Taos, the Sisters of Nazareth at the Holy Cross Hospital told him that because he had a fever and a white blood cell count of 18,000, his appendix might have burst and therefore he required immediate surgery.

“The altitude affected my heart, and I did not think I’d pull through,” he wrote Audrey Wood. “Pancho sat in the hospital with me and I made out my last will and testament while the young doctors shaved my groin for surgery,” Williams wrote. “I had nothing to leave but the playscript of ‘Battle of Angels’ and I left it to Pancho.” Pancho took the will and tore it to pieces. “He always had moments of great style, and this was one of them,” Williams said. As Williams breathed in the anesthesia, he experienced “a sensation of death.” “Claustrophobia, feeling of suffocation are my greatest dreads,” he explained later about the moment. As he went under, Williams’s last words were, “I’m dying! I’m dying!”

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