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Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams
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Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  149 ratings  ·  10 reviews
The bedrock, authoritative account of the little-known early life of Tennessee Williams. "Plainly a work of distinction...It will be great service to Williams's reputation and among other things may bring more of the young to an appreciation of his achievement."--Arthur Miller. Black-and-white photographs.
Paperback, 672 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published October 17th 1995)
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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
I am in love with Tennessee Williams.
Michael Flick
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
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.
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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