by Christopher Castellani
Viking. 357 pages, $27.
THIS NOVEL tells the story of the relationship between Tennessee Williams and his lover Frank Merlo. Set mainly during their time in Italy in 1953, Christopher Castellani’s Leading Men also offers glimpses of Frank’s future, suffering and dying from lung cancer. In a fascinating interweaving of history and fiction, one of their friends from their Italian adventures, actress Anja Bloom, now retired and living in New York City, meets a young man with a connection to another friend from that time, who reveals that Tennessee Williams’ final play was written expressly for her. It is a touching look at creativity, love, and friendship.