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Memoirs

ISBN-10: 0811216691
ISBN-13: 9780811216692
Edition: 2006
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Description: For the "old crocodile," as Williams called himself late in life, the past was always present, and so it is with his continual shifting and intermingling of times, places, and memories as he weaves this story. When Memoirs was first published in  More...

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Book details

List price: $18.95
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 10/15/2006
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 368
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.946
Language: English

For the "old crocodile," as Williams called himself late in life, the past was always present, and so it is with his continual shifting and intermingling of times, places, and memories as he weaves this story. When Memoirs was first published in 1975, it created quite a bit of turbulence in the mediathough long self-identified as a gay man, Williams' candor about his love life, sexual encounters, and drug use was found shocking in and of itself, and such revelations by America's greatest living playwright were called "a raw display of private life" by The New York Times Book Review. As it turns out, thirty years later, Williams' look back at his life is not quite so scandalous as it once seemed; he recalls his childhood in Mississippi and St. Louis, his prolonged struggle as a "starving artist," the "overnight" success of The Glass Menagerie in 1945, the death of his long-time companion Frank Merlo in 1962, and his confinement to a psychiatric ward in 1969 and subsequent recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, all with the same directness, compassion, and insight that epitomize his plays. And, of course, Memoirs is filled with Williams' amazing friends from the worlds of stage, screen, and literature as heoften hilariously, sometimes fondly, sometimes notremembers them: Laurette Taylor, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Elia Kazan, Marlon Brando, Vivian Leigh, Carson McCullers, Anna Magnani, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, and Tallulah Bankhead to name a few. And now film director John Waters, well acquainted with shocking the American public, has written an introduction that gives some perspective on the various reactions to Tennessee's Memoirs, while also paying tribute to a fellow artist who inspired many with his integrity and endurance.

After O'Neill, Williams is perhaps the best dramatist the United States has yet produced. Born in his grandfather's rectory in Columbus, Mississippi, Williams and his family later moved to St. Louis. There Williams endured many bad years caused by the abuse of his father and his own anguish over his introverted sister, who was later permanently institutionalized. Williams attended the University of Missouri, and, after time out to clerk for a shoe company and for his own mental breakdown, also attended Washington University of St. Louis and the University of Iowa, from which he graduated in 1938. Williams began to write plays in 1935. During 1943 he spent six months as a contract screenwriter for MGM but produced only one script, The Gentleman Caller. When MGM rejected it, Williams turned it into his first major success, The Glass Menagerie (1945). In this intensely autobiographical play, Williams dramatizes the story of Amanda, who dreams of restoring her lost past by finding a gentleman caller for her crippled daughter, and of Amanda's son Tom, who longs to escape from the responsibility of supporting his mother and sister. After The Glass Menagerie,Williams wrote his masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire, (1947), along with a steady stream of other plays, among them such major works as Summer and Smoke(1948), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1954), and Suddenly Last Summer (1958). His plays celebrate the "fugitive kind," the sensitive outcasts whose outsider status allows them to perceive the horror of the world and who often give additional witness to that horror by becoming its victims. Stephen S. Stanton has summed up Williams's "virtues and strengths" as "a genius for portraiture, particularly of women, a sensitive ear for dialogue and the rhythms of natural speech, a comic talent often manifesting itself in "black comedy,' and a genuine theatrical flair exhibited in telling stage effects attained through lighting, costume, music, and movements." After The Night of the Iguana (1961), Williams continued to write profusely---and constantly to revise his work---but it became more difficult to get productions of his plays and, if they were produced, to win critical or popular acclaim for them. Williams won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for these two and for The Glass Menagerie and The Night of the Iguana.

John Waters has been a respected columnist with The Irish Times for over twenty years. As well as Jiving at the Crossroads (Blackstaff, 1991) his books include Race of Angels: Ireland and the Genesis of U2 (Blackstaff/Fourth Estate, 1994); An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Ireland (Duckworth, 1997); and Feckers: 50 People who Fecked Up Ireland (Constable, 2010).

Introduction
Foreword
Memoirs
Afterword
List of Illustrations
Index

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