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Collected Stories

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  498 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Tennessee Williams was famous for insisting he write every morning. Even during his darkest days, while mourning a lover, or abusing some substance -- and he abused most of them at one time or another -- he'd write. The stories in this volume, arranged chronologically, are from every period of his long life, and recreate the milieux Williams knew and chronicled so movingly ...more
Paperback, 602 pages
Published April 1st 1994 by New Directions (first published 1985)
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Interview with the Vampire by Anne RiceCat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee WilliamsThe Glass Menagerie by Tennessee WilliamsA Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee WilliamsSweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams
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Jul 05, 2008 Ollie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: queer pulp fiction afficionados
Recommended to Ollie by: my street's bookclub group
Either Tennessee Williams was a very unhappy gay man or he had a terrible opinion of queer life. His stories reflect a time in America when "perversion" was the first word that popped into people's minds when the idea of two men loving each other came up. To allow yourself the love of a beautiful man was equal to losing innocence and turning into a monster. A happy end was impossible, unthinkable. A whole underworld, lit like a pulp novel scene, ties these stories together: drunks of all types, ...more
'He always enters the house as though he were entering it with the intention of tearing it down from the inside'. That is how Tennessee Williams writes in these compelling short stories. They really are gut wrenching.

He delivers a sense of isolation and futility with chilling purpose. The characters behave strangely and are often cruel. Most are haunted by loss and desire. You could almost be reading Flannery O'Connor, and yet this author is easily the darker of the two.

Gore Vidal's introduction
Counting Tennessee Williams’ preface, this collection contains 50 stories, some of which serve as precursors to several of Williams’ plays. When comparing the two, in essence, I do prefer the style of his plays to that of these stories. The stories are more explicit and uncensored, graphically depicting the harshness and ugliness of life. At times, they made me feel as if I was looking at a piece of expressionistic art or listening to a piece of expressionistic music… picture being trapped in a ...more
Why does anyone ever put this collection down? I've picked it back up, yawning (but not giving up) over the volcano book. But there's even a connection between Lowry and 10 and it's Mexico. But that is the only connection. Ten writes so well. o-me-lord.

What can I possibly add? Oriflamme and Portrait of a Girl in Glass are two versions of history for Laura Wingfield; yet Williams reflects on two like-stories in his Memoirs, briefly, related to his sister Rose. Heartbreaking threads; then, in the
Nicki Markus
I have long loved Tennessee Williams' plays but had never read any of his prose work. I found this collection of short stories utterly captivating. As always in such collections, some appealed more than others, but all are perfectly written and display Williams' frank approach to the world. I highly recommend this book to fans of his plays and also to those coming to his work for the first time. A beautiful collection.
This is a collection of many of Williams short stories. The thing I really like about Williams is the way he constructs these stories and then revisits them later in other short stories or makes them into plays. He is constantly re-visioning his own works and focusing on new aspects of the same story/characters. I haven't read all the short stories yet, but I am finished with the course. I imagine I might actually come back and read more of them later!
Jun 17, 2010 Elise marked it as to-read
I bought a paperback of this book when I was a senior in high school--that was twenty years ago--and I still have it on my bookshelf. I pull it out to read whenever I'm in need of a little inspiration for my own writing. Tennessee was a master of characterization and largely plotless stories (was there really anything interesting happening in "A Streetcar Named Desire" besides the delicious tension between Stanley and Stella?). He'll always be one of my favorites.
Jenn Lee
In addition to his recognition as a brilliant playwright, Tennessee Williams remains one of the most unique voices in the American drama genre and an incredible master of the short story form. His prose are gut-wrenching and compelling, drawing you into intimate portraits of hopelessly flawed characters suffering from loss and desire and their struggle against the societal decree they fear they have to adhere to. More autobiographical than his memoirs, this collection illustrates the ugliness of ...more
Simon A. Smith
Jul 03, 2007 Simon A. Smith rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Human-condition-peekers
Williams has a knack for plumbing the richest depths of human longing. An absolutely orginal voice in American drama. He often warmed up for his plays by writing short stories and one of the stories here, "Three Players of A Summer's Game," a precursor to his famous "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," is alone worth the price of this stellar collection.
I'm having a thing with Williams this summer, having nothing to do with his plays. These is the complete collection, so some are great and some are solid stories by a great author. Good or great, I'm always dragged into the pathos of the characters and willing to follow them into whatever house with the screen door slamming behind.
Dave Whitaker
I was looking around on my bookshelves looking for something to read, and I saw the Collected Stories of Tennessee Williams. I can't remember where I found the book, but on the inside there is a faint pencil notation saying it's the first edition and the price is $12.50. I think I may have purchased it at Mast Books at 66 Avenue A (a great used bookstore in NY). Normally, I wouldn't read a collection of short stories front to back, but this collection grabbed ahold of me and wouldn't let go. I t ...more
There is hardly a story in this collection that hasn't left me pondering for hours, sometimes days, after. It confirms for me that southern gothic is my favorite literary tradition: let the setting tell the story.
Jo Ella
One of the best collections ever put down on paper....

From the twisted to lonliness, to the crazy to the sadness, Williams, without a doubt, is the best writer ever.
The short stories of my favorite playwright, a roundup of his romantic losers, desperately clinging to illusion in difficult circumstances. Sound like anyone we know?
More Tennessee. More awkwardness. More dashed hopes. More social awkwardness and inwardness. And, yes, more incest.
His stories are stunning to say the least. I felt more human at times just for reading these gems.
Alexander Arsov
Tennessee Williams

Collected Stories

Ballantine, Paperback, 1986.

8vo. xxviii+611 pp. Preface by Tennessee Williams, c. 1960 [ix-xx]. Introduction by Gore Vidal, 26 March 1985 [xxi-xxviii]. Cover portrait of TW by Andy Warhol.

First published by New Directions, 1985.
First Ballantine Books Edition, November 1986.


This is the definitive collection of Tennessee’s short stories. First published two years after his death, it contains 50 pieces spanning some 50 years (in
My jaw is still on the floor. I won't be able to pick it up for days. I bought a tattered copy of this for four bucks at a bookstore I went to on a doomed mission to convince the owner to stock my own books. An aquaintance had recommended the store, which he thought was "cool." I suppose I might consider any store that was brimming with books "cool", but the books were all that was cool about the place or its owner. He looked like some gaunt creature that had emerged from a cave; at first, I tho ...more
Vanessa Richardson
I am going through a Paul Newman phase in my Netflix queue, so watching "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Sweet Bird of Youth" made me think about Tennessee Williams, his life and what inspired him to write the plays he did. I didn't realize he wrote short stories, but many were the basis for his most famous plays. The first story in here he wrote when he was age 17, the last he did a year before he died. The book begins with a great mini-memoir of his youth; he writes how his depressing job in a St. ...more
The 50 short stories in this collection are like the back stage of Tennessee's plays. The characters, their tragedies, their destinies were made here. Blanche, Stanley, Laura and the whole lot of them were born here. They were encouraged and deeply sympathised with. It is the deep sympathy which Tennessee had for his characters- beautiful, weak people who could not succeed in the social set up in which they existed- which made me love these stories. Deviants who are written off as creeps or lose ...more
Jeff Kirk
I love this book. Such wonderful illustrations of humanity. Short stories are my favorite medium. Tennessee is a master of the form, if not famous for it.
Love Tennessee Williams, the time period, the settings and the edginess. Like many of my favorites, I return again and again.
Read this as I whooshed all over Germany in trains, so I always associate his short stories with glimpses out the window of the Rheinland, and conversations with interesting strangers.

There is something rich and mesmerizing in all of Williams' writing, yet also plenty which is pungent and dark. Particularly in these short stories, there's a strong thread of misogyny.

Were I to read his work today, I don't believe I'd have the stomach for it. But I won't deny Williams' gift and his capability to c
Dylan Schiavone
An amazing collection of stories. A gorgeous sense of prose. Each one a gem.
Ryan Williams
Arguably a better record of Williams' inner life than his infamous Memoirs, and despite a few duds (Rubio y Morena, for example) the collection still seems outstanding to me.

You don't need to have seen the plays to appreciate the stories, but if you're anything like me, veteran TW fans will appreciate the prose trial-runs for the plays, particularly 'Portrait of a Girl in Glass' (later reworked into Williams' first masterpiece, The Glass Menagerie).
As way of introduction, my first best friend gave me a copy of this book when she saw me reading "Catch-22". That was almost forever ago and I still think it's one of the best short story collections I've ever read. Much better than his plays, which set a high standard.

The depths of TW's imaginations and observations are incredible here. Try starting with "Desire and the Black Masseur" and you'll begin to understand the dark dark south.
Ayushman Khazanchi
3.5 stars, simply for the monumental collection which results in the few masterpieces being eclipsed by some of the other mediocre works.

This was a huge compilation. Some of the stories are truly works of art, and Tennessee's prose is not disappointing. I read this with the perspective of having read beforehand about Williams' own unsettled personal life, and it gives some of these stories a haunting feel.
Williams's best technique as far as I'm concerned has to be how much emotion he arranged in the details. The description is meticulously chosen to correspond to what is going on for a character or in their mind. Great characters, too. Williams's really knew what was going on inside his characters' minds. These stories show a very interesting range of emotion, plot, and character.
Anne Nikoline
Mar 11, 2012 Anne Nikoline rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: short story kind of people
Recommended to Anne Nikoline by: book club
Rating a book of collected stories is very difficult and Collected Stories by Tennessee Williams is no exception. Obviously there were stories, like Something by Tolstoi that would make me rate this book sky high, but also sotires like The Yellow Bird that make me struggle through the pages. So therefore I only find it fair to give this book three stars.
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Thomas Lanier Williams III, better known by the nickname Tennessee Williams, was a major American playwright of the twentieth century who received many of the top theatrical awards for his work. He moved to New Orleans in 1939 and changed his name to "Tennessee," the state of his father's birth. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ...more
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A Streetcar Named Desire The Glass Menagerie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Suddenly Last Summer The Night of the Iguana (Acting Edition)

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“These are the intensities that one cannot live with, that he has to outgrow if he wants to survive. But who can help grieving for them? If the blood vessels could hold them, how much better to keep those early loves with us?” 32 likes
“I saw that it was all over, put away in a box like a doll no longer cared for, the magical intimacy of our childhood together” 19 likes
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