In the fall of 1981, when Tennessee Williams found his household in an uproar after a visiting ex-lover ran his housekeeper off with a gun, he turned to Scott Kenan for help. Recently laid off from a restaurant management job and standing an inch short of seven feet tall, Kenan was available and appeared capable of handling any situation. He agreed to move into Williams' house to manage it, run errands, and accompany the playwright nearly everywhere.
WALKING ON GLASS: A MEMOIR OF THE LATER DAYS OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS takes the reader on a journey through the world of Tennessee Williams – a world where teetering on the razor's edge of their never-quite-defined relationship, Kenan mollified the playwright's volatile moods while through a revolving door, a cast of characters Williams might have created came and went, competing for his favor.
Employing rich detail of time and place, Scott Kenan re-creates a lost world in which the Reagan Revolution was just beginning, disco still reigned in dance clubs, and AIDS had felled a few in distant cities, but had not yet crashed the sexual revolution–or even found its proper name.
Never before has anyone chronicled the experience of living and working continuously at the playwright's side. With compassion and humor, WALKING ON GLASS unflinchingly portrays life and relationships within Tennessee Williams' world – the rich realm from which his inspiration sprang. Many iconic people, including Meryl Streep, Jackie Onassis, Truman Capote, Audrey Hepburn, and Ronald Reagan, crossed their path – sometimes in shocking ways – as Kenan accompanied Williams to The White House, the Kennedy Center Honors, and, finally, to the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, for the staging of A HOUSE NOT MEANT TO STAND, Williams' last new play produced during his lifetime.
The story climaxes with the emotional roller coaster of the play's production, after which the two part company when the playwright chooses to travel with his newfound love, a poetry-spouting youth. Ten months later, Williams was dead. Kenan's chronicle concludes with a twist that casts the entire book in a new light when an executor of Williams' estate reveals what was found on the playwright's desk.
Tennessee Williams and me at the Kennedy Center Honors, 1981.