TENNESSEE WILLIAMS' LETTERS TO DONALD WINDHAM 1940-65 by Tennessee Williams
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TENNESSEE WILLIAMS' LETTERS TO DONALD WINDHAM 1940-65

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Letters from a ""fantastically serf-centered but not and never disloyal friend"" (so says Tennessee) to a soul-mate--not lover--who ""was apt to get hurt"" (so says Don), both ""morbidly sensitive to each other's reactions."" Most of these communiques were sent in the Forties, when penniless Donald sweated over short stories in Manhattan while penniless Tennessee wrote and rewrote plays on the road--Florida, California (on salary at MGM), Provincetown, Rome, and the dreaded family hothouse in Clayton, Mo. The subjects: lovers, pick-ups, sex ""gone beyond shame"" (not unlike the Memoirs--""the greatest difference in the world is the difference between being fucked and well-fucked""), gossip (""What do you think Truman [not Harry] is, a bitch or not?""), but, above all, Work. Their collaboration on You Touched Me, a play adapted from a D. H. Lawrence story, dominates the first half of the book--thorny details of theatrical production on the surface while Donald's idea is gradually overwhelmed by Tennessee's incredible selfishness. And Tennessee's critiques of Den's stories: precise, praise mixed with advice, but ultimately hurtful. About Ten's own plays, there is less, Glass Menagerie appearing out of town almost out of nowhere (one rare, early reference: ""lacks the violence that excites me""), with Laurette Taylor sounding like the ""Aunt Jemima Pancake hour."" Except for Windham's terse, often pained notes, this is a one-sided conversation, so the reader is forced to fill in--a sometimes invigorating, sometimes infuriating (especially when involving some super-sensitive spat) proposition. But always--and far less self-consciously than in the Memoirs--the Williams rhythms, the inimitable turns of phrase (a friend is described as ""more like a pineapple ice-cream soda than ever""), the self-deprecating humor, the serf-dramatizing panics--but less studied, gussied up, and on-parade than anywhere else.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1977
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston