Center Reads: "Leading Men" by Christopher Castellani
Join The Center’s monthly book discussion group as we discuss the 2019 fictionalized biography of Tennessee Williams. 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 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.
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 20th century.
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Tuesday, May 4, 2021
7 p.m. ET