Friday, March 16, 2007

Collected Stories of Tennessee Williams

from the diary: “Monday 11/24/86

“Started reading Tennessee Williams’ Collected Stories. Not bad.”

The story that sticks in my mind is the one where the hero yearns to be dismembered and eaten by the man of his dreams. Yuck? Williams was good at atmosphere, I recall. I’ve read his poetry, too.

In an Amazon review J.E. Barnes says, the stories “reflect the degree to which Williams internalized the shame and self hatred he experienced as a homosexual male in a predominantly heterosexual and anti-homosexual society.” One story, for instance, finds its elderly main character choking to death on a hustler’s cock. In a New York Times review Reynolds Price looks on the bright side, The best stories “move with a leisurely, even archaic, nobility of pace and tone through unblinking scrutiny of those few tendencies of human nature that empowered [their author] - the irreparable damage one person can inflict on his or her companions, the tyranny and persistence of physical desire, the pathos and peculiar grace of the walking wounded.” Empowered by the irreparable damage one person can inflict on another? It’s often the case that one writer’s summing up of another is truest of himself. Just saying.

The next day: “Went to [Best of Two Worlds, a comic shop in Santa Rosa] with Juan. He sez he’s been trying to show that my grand revelation – ‘That you’re homosexual.’ – has not affected our friendship. Oh. Kay. He asked me if it showed. ‘Oh, you mean coming up to the desk [at the library where I worked] and shaking my hand?’”

Juan was a friend I made on the bus. I got acquainted with him while commuting to Day Treatment. He was taking the bus to school. We hung out together some when I started at the JC in the fall.

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