Tennessee Williams was as fascinating as any character he conceived, and his life was as deep, restless, funny, and meaningful as any drama he ever wrote. Indeed, Williams continuously mined his life, those around him, and unconscious for material as he caught the wave of post-war America’s self-expression. In order to continuously go deeper in pursuit of his craft Williams required various devices and substances-alcohol, sex, drugs, imbalanced company, etc.-to get there at great personal cost. While ultimately tragic, Williams’ life as told by John Lahr makes an amazing tale, both inspirational and cautionary.
The Ancient Roman symbol of life’s precariousness was a butterfly balanced on a skull balanced on a wheel and the story of Peplum thoroughly proves it. Acclaimed French graphic novelist Blutch freely adapts Petronius Arbiter’s Satyricon (one of the first “novels” in recorded history) into a story full of stoicism and sloth, sex and death, whimsy and tragedy, all gorgeously rendered. A cold, starving youth takes a dead nobleman’s name and travels across the Empire encountering all manner of misadventures. Is it all a cosmic joke or an outcome entirely of his own making? You decide.
It may sound morbid, but The Dead is as much a piece of Holiday literature as "A Christmas Carol." Starting on Christmas Eve and ending in the wee hours of Christmas day the climactic tale of Joyce's "Dubliners" reminds how the holidays can isolate us as often as they bring us together. Such an atmosphere brings our truest feelings into stark relief. "The Dead" is a masterpiece and I read it every Christmas.