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Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams

4.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  182 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
The riveting, revelatory, and sole authorized account of the critical first decades of Tennessee Williams's life. Tennessee Williams, author of such indelible masterpieces as The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire, is considered by many to be the greatest literary artist of the American theater. Tom is Lyle Leverich's definitive account based on his exclusive acc ...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published April 17th 1995 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Jul 12, 2011 Don rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Probably the most impressive, insightful biography I've ever read. Lyle Leverich made Tennessee's life so real I felt like I knew him and he was in the room with me whenever I opened this book. This volume (Tom) encompasses only the first half of Tennessee’s life, up to The Glass Menagerie. Leverich was going to continue with volume II, to be called 'Tennessee', but died before he could finish it, more's the pity and loss for us.
Dec 06, 2014 John rated it it was amazing
Just a hair shy of perfection in literary biography.

What is absent nearly altogether, and what I miss, is analysis of TW's writing before Glass Menagerie. To my mind his thought and perspective on the world must represent events in his inner/imaginary/creative life. These events needn't correspond to happenings that a contemporary could have observed and reported. But even if the poems and plays express momentary feelings, thoughts or experiments in sensibility and expression, these are also bi
Sep 25, 2008 Mamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the definitive biography of T. W. An insightful look into to an artists life and process. As a visual artist I connected on many levels to this book. T.W. was a deep complex man, full of demons and manic energy. If you love his plays, I highly recommend this book. Leverich really goes into T.W's characters and how they evolved to become his memorable archetypes.
Edgar W
Aug 06, 2015 Edgar W rated it it was amazing
Love biographies and this is one of the best by far. Lyle Leverich intended to write another bio about the elder Tom but he unfortunately passed away. Tennessee Williams was the most complex, talented playwright of the 20th century and his story is one of success and eventually of bitter failure. Fascinating!
May 10, 2011 Kristine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lyle Leverich was asked by Tennessee Williams to write this Biography which tells the story of his dysfunctional upbringing in the early 1900's. His mother was a former Southern Belle, his father was emotionally absent and critical, and his sister was mentally unstable. Tennessee was born Tom Williams and spent most of his life trying to become a successful writer so he could escape his miserable homelife and become financially secure. I chose this book after seeing "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and " ...more
Alan Gerstle
Aug 03, 2014 Alan Gerstle rated it it was amazing
If you are a aficionado of Tennessee Williams, you will probably like this book. If you're not it's irrelevant whether it's a good book.
Ben Schaffer
Nov 30, 2014 Ben Schaffer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jun 28, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thorough and comprehensive biography covering the first half of the playwright's life. Well-written and accessible. Good documentation. Fascinating.
Nov 12, 2010 Mark rated it it was amazing
This is just fantastic, everything a biography should be. It's immensely detailed, yet always remains immensely readable. It's neither hagiography nor expose, but simply tries to tell the story as clearly as possible. Sometimes that means contradicting Williams himself, and it always means finding as many sources as possible for every incident. My only disappointment is that with Leverich's death in 1999, there will be no concluding volume.
Mar 08, 2014 Shannon rated it it was amazing
I am in love with Tennessee Williams.
Michael Flick
Sep 24, 2012 Michael Flick rated it it was ok
Less can be more, and more can be less. Were this book half as long, it might have been twice as good. It's so detailed that it's chatter, repetitious and lacking perspective. Tennessee Williams kept himself hidden and was a chameleon; this book doesn't manage to reveal him. He was just as unknown to me when I finished reading as he was when I started.
Doug Long
Jun 23, 2008 Doug Long rated it it was amazing
Interesting and long dive into the formative years of Williams, cultivating with the starry success of "The Glass Menagerie" and his ascension as one of America's leading playwrights. Sadly, author Lyle Leverich died before completing the planned sequel covering the rest of Williams' career.
Todd McConville
Sep 05, 2015 Todd McConville rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Poignant!!
Oct 05, 2013 Alexandra rated it really liked it
The best profile of TW I've read. Entertaining and enlightening, and extremely thorough and well-researched.
Steven Hartman
I kept hoping it would get more enjoyable but I couldn't get into it so I stopped reading around page 400.
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