Sympathetic, admiring, gifted with seemingly total recall and afflicted with grammatical lapses, a Chicago publicist describes his intimate (but not sexual) three-year friendship with the aging, alcoholic, drug-addicted Tennessee Williams. In Key West, Chicago and New York, assisting the playwright as he worked on the production of his last two plays, Clothes for a Summer Hotel and A House Not Meant to Stand, Smith kept a journal in which he recorded episodes of the dramatist's paranoia, his feelings about Marlon Brando, Truman Capote, Paul Newman, Geraldine Page and various gay companions. Less bitchy and not as depressing as other books on the ``last, sad decline,'' this memoir stresses the ``one great, occasional prick to the tension: humor''--a ``psychic emollient'' with which Williams was ``wildly endowed.'' Photos not seen by PW. (May)
There is always something dubious about a memoir written by a companion of a notorious celebrity. This one relies on ``anecdotage'' spawned by several sporadic meetings between Williams and the author. The result is an exploitative and judgmental, but not very interesting, report of drug and alcohol consumption, abuse by parasitic associates, and unsuccessful play productions. This is a sad story of one of America's foremost playwrights and the liabilities of creative brilliance. What little light is shed on Williams's last three years is darkened by the personal tastes of the author; this seamy memoir would have benefited from a modicum of distance. Not a very useful account.-- Janice Braun, Medical Historical Lib., Yale Univ.