Review: “Bird” is Vidal’s nickname for Tennessee Williams.
Comments: I have been reading the Paris Review Interviews because I am interested in the experiences of writers and their writing. Unfortunately, the interviews go into their experiences in living with more personal details than I want to read, from sex to idiosyncrasies. That’s what this essay reminds me of. Gore Vidal comments about Tennessee Williams’ published memoirs, most of which are about his homosexuality and idiosyncrasies—and Vidal’s memories, too. A big bore. But a few interesting quotes.
Quote: “Today, at sixty-four, Tennessee has the same voracious appetite for work and for applause that he had at twenty-four.”
Quote: “…the plays do speak for themselves and Tennessee’s mind is not, to say the least, at home with theory.”
Quote: “Tennessee now writes, ‘I am unable to believe that there is anything but permanent oblivion after death….’ ”
Quote: “In any case, artists who continue to find exhilarating the puzzles art proposes never grow bored and so have no need of death.”
Quote: “As for life? Well, that is a hard matter. But it was always a hard matter for those of us born with a sense of the transiency of these borrowed atoms that make up our corporeal being.”
The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books, 1995.