Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog

James Grissom. Knopf, $30 (416p) ISBN 978-0-307-26569-2
“Be my witness.” This was Tennessee Williams’s unexpected response to Grissom, who had written to the playwright looking for advice as a college-aged aspiring writer from Baton Rouge in 1982. As recorded in this uniquely personal blend of road trip and literary history, Grissom proceeded to spend several days in New Orleans with the great writer, recording the older man’s reminiscences in notebooks. Desperate to know that he still mattered, Williams made Grissom swear to seek out and talk to the women who had most shaped his work and life. In 1988, years after Williams’s death, Grissom began to seek out these names and make good on his promise. The cast is a memorable one: earthy Maureen Stapleton; delicate but determined Jessica Tandy; the two Kims, Hunter and Stanley; and even the inimitable Katherine Hepburn. In a series of conversations by turns philosophical, pragmatic, funny, and devastating, all discuss their lives, craft, and the art of surviving. The narrative can be meandering, and the language gauzy (perhaps not surprisingly, considering its subject), but Grissom has succeeded in creating a kaleidoscopic meditation on the people that entered Williams’s imagination—“the fog”—to become his signature characters. 48 color photos. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 11/24/2014
Release date: 03/03/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-1-101-97277-9
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