Books: Glimmers the KINDNESS OF STRANGERS and CRY OF THE HEART

by Donald Spoto Little, Brown; 409 pages; $19.95 CRY OF THE HEART by Dotson Rader Doubleday; 348 pages; $16.95

Tennessee Williams outlived his talent but not his yearning to create. Throughout his final years of drunkenness, lewd confessions and paranoiac public feuding, in the face of critical rejection and box-office failure, he went on writing, morning after diligent morning, no matter how he had misspent the night before. That poignant fact confers dignity on what was otherwise the pathetic wreckage of genius. Unlike Eugene O'Neill, his chief rival for the laurel as America's greatest playwright, Williams left no posthumous masterpiece. Indeed, unless future generations discern something more than glimmers of incandescence in the murky, forgettable plays of his last two...

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