Two dozen short explosions of varying importance and seriousness (1944-1973) by that self-proclaimed ""unregenerate romanticist,"" Tennessee Williams. Always unpretentious (however flowery and exclamation-pointed), always ready to slide from philosophy-of-life to this-thing-that-happened-last-week, Williams is impossible not to like, even when he is being foolish, sly, or downright petulant. Some of the essays here -- most of those written for the New York Times just before Broadway openings and later printed as introductions to the published plays -are classics of orchestrated, open-hearted vulnerability, mixing Williams' nonacademic dramatic theory with anecdotes of theatrical nightmare on the road. Williams is best when writing on Williams -- the self-deprecation balances the gush -- and not so good when writing about friends like Carson McCullers, William Inge, and Paul Bowles. And when he salutes five glamorous actresses. . . it's all too too much. But, except for a dated ""Facts About Me"" that clashes hilariously with Williams' more recent self-revelations, he can be counted on to bare his soul with down-home elegance, whether responding to his critics (Walter Kerr, Marya Mannes), musing on the director-playwright relationship, or going ga-ga over Key West. Mostly lightweight -- Williams aesthetic theory could be accommodated in a thimble with room to spare -- but a distinctive voice from a disarming personality in his more poetic, less explicit pre-Memoirs days.