cover image The Caterpillar Dogs: And Other Early Stories

The Caterpillar Dogs: And Other Early Stories

Tennessee Williams. New Directions, $16.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-0-8112-3232-6

Williams, the Pulitzer-winning playwright and author of the collection Hard Candy, shows glimmers of his mature style in these modest sketches. Each story begins as a character portrait that may or may not develop into a plot. In “Every Friday Nite Is Kiddies Nite” the newly retired Reverend Houston finds his new idle existence idyllic and free of guilt. The title story is a snapshot of an elderly spinster’s violent final day. “Season of Grapes,” by contrast, tracks a sensuous summer affair and all its attendant turbulence. Its narrator, on the verge of college, wants simultaneously to be free from and comforted by the presence of the community he’s leaving behind. Other entries depict the enthusiasm of first love, a young woman branded by the wagging tongues of a provincial community, and a backwoods love triangle. The closer, “Stair to the Roof,” is both the most autobiographical and the most accomplished: Edward Schiller feels trapped in his dull job at the Continental Shoe Company and dreams of escape while his mother tells everyone he’s a “terrible disappointment.” They might be Tom and Amanda Wingfield from Williams’s breakout play, The Glass Menagerie. This is a fine addition to Williams’s broad oeuvre. (Apr.)