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Posts Tagged ‘centennials’

Tennessee Williams

March 30, 2011 | by

March 26, marked the centennial of Tennessee Williams’s birth. The Paris Review celebrates with an appreciation by Sam Stephenson, through the eyes of W. Eugene Smith.

Tennessee Williams at the New Orleans Athletic Club, 1948. © W. Eugene Smith. Compliments of A Gallery For Fine Photography.

In December 1966 or January 1967, W. Eugene Smith was in his fifth floor loft space at 821 Sixth Avenue. Forty-eight years old, he was down and out. He drank a fifth of scotch and ate countless amphetamines every day. His live-in girlfriend of seven years, Carole Thomas, was loyal but growing weary. He maintained grand, alluring ambitions, but nobody would hire him for fear of igniting an impossible odyssey. The underworld jazz scene in the building had fizzled out two years earlier. The neighborhood had a daytime retail life, but otherwise the place was desolate: hot dog wrappers and paper cups blowing down the street.

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