Friday, April 24, 2015

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

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

Williams honored Merlo’s inspiration in another significant way: he gave him a percentage of the play. “I want him to feel some independence,” Williams told Wood in March. “His position with me now lacks the security and dignity that his character calls for.” Intimacy required equality; the money went some way to ensuring it. The Rose Tattoo was also dedicated to Merlo “in return for Sicily”; the exchange to which the play was a testament, however, was as much psychological as geographical. Even before Williams had written about Sicily or visited it, his identification with the place and with Merlo’s stories about it signaled a hysteric’s desire to merge with the alluring personality of his friend. Merlo regaled Williams with tales of his parents, originally from Ribera, and their large, noisy, bumptious first-generation Sicilian-American family. According to Merlo, sometimes after a family blowup, his mother would take umbrage in the garden and climb into a fig tree to sulk. “I remember Frankie telling us that after one particularly blinding row, she refused to come down,” Maria Britneva recalled. “Having shouted at her, and pleaded with her, her sons eventually took an axe to the tree and brought the whole thing down, with her in it.” Britneva went on, “Tennessee and I . . . were whimpering with laughter. Frankie was livid.”

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