Leading Men by Christopher Castellani
English | 2019 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 1.3 Mb
Leading Men : Illuminating one of the great love stories of the twentieth century – Tennessee Williams and his longtime partner Frank Merlo – Leading Men is a glittering novel of desire and ambition, set against the glamorous literary circles of 1950s Italy
In July of 1953, at a glittering party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Italy, Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo meet Anja Blomgren, a mysteriously taciturn young Swedish beauty and aspiring actress. Their encounter will go on to alter all of their lives.
Ten years later, Frank revisits the tempestuous events of that fateful summer from his deathbed in Manhattan, where he waits anxiously for Tennessee to visit him one final time. Anja, now legendary film icon Anja Bloom, lives as a recluse in the present-day U.S., until a young man connected to the events of 1953 lures her reluctantly back into the spotlight after he discovers she possesses the only surviving copy of Williams’s final play.
What keeps two people together and what breaks them apart? Can we save someone else if we can’t save ourselves? Like The Master and The Hours, Leading Men seamlessly weaves fact and fiction to navigate the tensions between public figures and their private lives. In an ultimately heartbreaking story about the burdens of fame and the complex negotiations of life in the shadows of greatness, Castellani creates an unforgettable leading lady in Anja Bloom and reveals the hidden machinery of one of the great literary love stories of the twentieth-century.
“They didn’t like Truman much, but Frank didn’t hate him the way Tenn did. Or maybe Tenn didn’t hate Truman. It was hard to know for sure with Tenn. It was a job in itself keeping track of who he was angry with, and who was jealous of him, whose parties he was looking forward to and whose they’d have to make up some excuse to get out of. Frank’s official job was as Tenn’s secretary, but even his secretary didn’t have a reason for being in Portofino other than to stop by Truman’s party, and he didn’t know when they’d be leaving. There wasn’t much Frank knew in the summer of 1953, least of all how long he and Tenn might last.
In those years, there was no such thing as early, late, or on time. They went from place to place on a magic carpet. Dropped here, dropped there. Women in electric dresses, men in monkey suits and bow ties made of white silk. Cognac, cigars, wine. The sky turquoise even when it was gray. Because Tenn had no mind—and little use—for schedules and logistics and coordinates, he needed Frank to organize the day they woke, and the coming days, and even the days before. The dinner they’d had in London, Tenn swore on Mother Edwina’s grave they’d had in Chicago. The party for the Sweet Bird of Youth tryout in Philadelphia he remembered as the one in New Haven for Camino Real. The life of Tennessee Williams was a memory play in which memory was a jumble. It was bodies he remembered, bodies they remembered together. His body and Frank’s, the Southern Gentleman and the Little Horse. The bodies of all the Marios, from Key West to Marrakech. When it came to matters of the body, Frank and Tenn trusted each other like soldiers.”