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Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams Hardcover – October 17, 1995

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What If? by Randall Munroe
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 644 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (October 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517702258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517702253
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After a protracted squabble over private papers with the playwright's estate, Leverich delivers this hefty but only slightly bloated first volume of a projected two-volume life of Tennessee Williams (1911-1983). In it, Leverich?who produced several of Williams's plays and calls himself Williams's "chosen biographer"?covers the years through 1945, when The Glass Menagerie opened on Broadway. Treated are Williams's youth in Mississippi and St. Louis; the college years at the universities of Missouri and Iowa; bumming around (but always writing) in New Orleans and Greenwich Village; the disaster of his first Broadway play (it closed in Boston); script writing?or avoiding it?at MGM's Hollywood mill; and, finally, the evolution of Menagerie, a wonderfully detailed and dramatic case history in itself. Leverich's overworked conceit, which he restates at intervals, is that this is the life of Tom Williams, a "repressed puritan" poet, who in time created a more flamboyant public persona called Tennessee. A few matters are set straight. Leverich maintains his subject's active homosexual life started in his late 20s, later than Williams stated in his memoirs, and that his sister's infamous lobotomy came later than his mother claimed. Although the accumulation of information is impressive, the lower Leverich keeps his own profile and editorial commentary the better his book is, which means it is at its best when it simply reproduces Williams's sporadically kept journal. If you believe that all the details of a life are but preparation for a single event?in this case, the opening of a remarkable play?this is an impressively argued biography. Even if you don't, it is a compulsively readable story. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Theatrical producer Leverich was personally selected by Williams to write his biography (this is the first of two books; the second will focus on Williams once he became famous). It is clear that Leverich understands Williams as poet, dramatist, and human being-and the impact of each on the other. Concerning his outrageous behavior, Williams once wrote that "when I now appear in public the children are called indoors and the dogs are pushed out!" What lasted longest in Williams's life was his passion for writing-even when what he wrote was no longer successful. Williams battled his "blue devils"-his fear of madness; addictive, promiscuous homosexual behavior; and alcoholism-for most of his adult life. His mother, father, and sister contributed greatly to the creation of characters in his plays. Williams became a wayfarer, constantly seeking comfort in distant places with strangers, haunted by the nightingale (his own word for sexual intrigue). If Williams were here to read this book, he would undoubtedly use one of his favorite phrases, En avant! ("Forward march!"). Highly recommended.
Robert L. Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., Ind.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 1995
Format: Hardcover
"Tom" by Lyle Leverich is a truly outstanding work. Tennessee Williams himself picked Leverich to be his "official" biographer before he died. Indeed, Leverich was quite friendly with Williams the last few years of his life, and came to know him quite well. Ordinarily friendship can cause the biographer to lose his objectivity. That's not the case here.

But the book isn't simply a collection of dates and events - it reads like
a good novel, and is extremely well-written and well-researched. I'll be very surprised if "Tom" isn't nominated for a major literary award this year.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dark Star on October 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a new book, never used. And what an interesting book it is.
Williams is a very interesting man and the book gives many details of his
personal life....excellent reading
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