Book Club Travel

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Connecting the Dots

Some of the time, I get to a city and it’s mapped out already – like people had already thought of checking out EVERYTHING about that particular author or piece of literature. That’s what I expected with Tennessee Williams because he’s so famous. However – with St. Louis – it was half and half.  There was a beaten path to some locations but I had to dig around to find others. In the end though – The Glass Menagerie turned out to be a great tour because the places Williams wrote about are a nice blend – a little main stream and a little off the beaten path – which is good mix for taking the exploration of a book on the road.

The Glass Menagerie

Sample Itinerary

Friday

Early check in or drop bags at Chase Plaza Hotel

Walking tour of Delmar District and Central West End

Cocktails at Gringo and Dinner at Herbes

Saturday

Tour of Forest Park

Jewell House, Zoo and Art Museum

Lunch at Beach House in Forest Park

Tour Clayton

Dinner and Book Discussion at Chase Plaza Hotel

Sunday

Breakfast and Check Out

Continental Shoe Company

Cemetery Tour

Airport

Getting Around

You need a car to explore St. Louis with Tennessee Williams in mind. You’ll have to get to many places around the city and the mass transit won’t get you from place to place with great swiftness – which is how I like to move – to see it all.

Building the Excitement

The Glass Menagerie is one of Tennessee Williams’ best known works. However, he wrote many other plays and it would be great to see one of them. Poke around the theater community in St. Louis online to find when a Williams play is in production.  Or, to really throw this thing over the top – you could attend the brand new St. Louis Tennessee Williams Festival. It will be held for the first time in the summer of 2016.

                                                    Talking it Over

Tennessee Williams is so quotable. So – I thought it would be fun to do something different and use the quotes to generate the Traveling Book Club chat. I’ve listed great quotes from the play below – quotes recognized by others – not just me, from The Glass Menagerie. You can start by guessing who said it and why and then talk about the meaning – I think I’ve set you up for a raucous session. These were selected by Goodreads.

“Time is the longest distance between two places.”

“How beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken.”

“In memory, everything seems to happen to music.”

“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”

“The scene is memory and is therefore nonrealistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the hear

“Being disappointed is one thing and being discouraged is something else. I am disappointed but I am not discouraged.”

“Every time you come in yelling that God damn “Rise and Shine!” “Rise and Shine!” I say to myself, “How lucky dead people are!”

“I didn’t go to the moon, I went much further—for time is the longest distance between two places”

“You are the only young man that I know of who ignores the fact that the future becomes the present, the present the past, and the past turns into everlasting regret if you don’t plan for it.”

“All pretty girls are a trap, a pretty trap, and men expect them to be.”

“For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura — and so goodbye. . . .”

“Go, then! Go to the moon-you selfish dreamer!”

“Being disappointed is one thing and being discouraged is something else. I am disappointed but I am not discouraged.”

“The cities swept about me like dead leaves, leaves that were brightly colored but torn away from the branches. I would have stopped, but I was pursued by something. It always came upon me unawares, taking me altogether by surprise. Perhaps it was a familiar bit of music. Perhaps it was only a piece of transparent glass.”

“People go to the movies instead of moving.”

“People are not so dreadful when you know them. That’s what you have to remember! And everybody has problems, not just you, but practically everybody has got some problems. You think of yourself as having the only problems, as being the only one who is disappointed. But just look around you and you will see lots of people as disappointed as you are.”

“Yes, movies! Look at them — All of those glamorous people — having adventures — hogging it all, gobbling the whole thing up! You know what happens? People go to the movies instead of moving! Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody in America, while everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches them have them! Yes, until there’s a war. That’s when adventure becomes available to the masses! Everyone’s dish, not only Gable’s! Then the people in the dark room come out of the dark room to have some adventures themselves — Goody, goody! — It’s our turn now, to go to the south Sea Island — to make a safari — to be exotic, far-off! — But I’m not patient. I don’t want to wait till then. I’m tired of the movies and I am about to move!”

“Why, man alive, Laura! Just look about you a little. What do you see? A world full of common people! All of ’em born and all of em’ going to die! Which of them has one-tenth of your good points! Or mine! Or anyone else’s, as far as that goes – gosh! Everybody excels in some one thing. Some in many!”

“She lives in a world of her own – a world of – little glass ornaments…”

“But here there was only hot swing music and liquor, dance halls, ban, and movies, and sex that hung in the gloom like a chandelier and flooded the world with brief, deceptive rainbows.”

Literary Loot

You know me – and gifts.  I love them. I’ve managed to peel off some ideas from The Glass Menagerie  – enough for a gift bag or some thoughtful prizes.

Glass Menagerie Creatures

In The Glass Menagerie:

“LAURA: Little articles of it, they’re ornaments mostly! Most of them are little animals made out of glass, the tiniest little animals in the world. Mother calls them a glass menagerie! Here’s an example of one, if you’d like to see it! This one is one of the oldest. It’s nearly thirteen.”  Page i166  

What to do:  The glass creatures Laura Wingfield plays with in the play say so much about her. I would be cool to buy a glass creature for your book club members and give them away as gifts. Make sure one of them is a unicorn!

Jonquils

In The Glass Menagerie:

“AMANDA: Mother said, “Honey, there’s no more room for jonquils.” And still I kept on bringing in more jonquils. Whenever, wherever I saw them, I’d say, “Stop! Stop! I see jonquils!” I made the young men help me gather the jonquils! It was a joke, Amanda and her jonquils.” Page i120

What to do:  Find some jonquils and use them as a centerpiece or give out little bouquets.

Blue Roses

In The Glass Menagerie: 

“LAURA: I was out of school a little while with pleurosis. When I came back you asked me what was the matter. I said I had pleurosis — you thought I said Blue Roses. That’s what you always called me after that!” Page i154

JIM: I hope you didn’t mind.

What to do: Blue Roses have some great meaning. You could do a lot with this.  Blue roses in a vase – a centerpiece along with some jonquils or you could give out some seeds to grow their own.

Mints

In The Glass Menagerie:

“JIM: Peppermint? Life Saver? My pocket’s a regular drugstore — wherever I go. . . . [He pops a mint in his mouth. Then he gulps and decides to make a clean breast of it. He speaks slowly and gingerly.] Laura, you know, if I had a sister like you, I’d do the same thing as Tom. I’d bring out fellows and — introduce her to them. The right type of boys — of a type to — appreciate her.” Page i178

What to do:  Get some mints!  Here’s a pretty good selection.

Wrigley Gum

In The Glass Menagerie:

“JIM: So am I. Comfortable as a cow! Will you have some gum?

LAURA: No, thank you.

JIM: I think that I will indulge, with your permission. [He musingly unwraps a stick of gum and holds it up.] Think of the fortune made by the guy that invented the first piece of chewing gum. Amazing, huh? The Wrigley Building is one of the sights of Chicago — I saw it when I went up to the Century of Progress. Did you take in the Century of Progress?” Page i

What to do:  Get some Wrigleys!

Candelabrum

In The Glass Menagerie: 

“AMANDA: I’m not exaggerating, not one bit! But Sister is all ceoyby her lonesome. You go keep her company in the parlor! I’ll give you this lovely old candelabrum that used to be on the altar at the Church of the Heavenly Rest. It was melted a little out of shape when the church burnt down. Lightning struck it one spring.” Page i144

What to do: A candelabrum might be a nice prize for a book club discussion winner.

And finally, The Movie

You can buy the Katherine Hepburn version here or watch the movie right here.

Music

A music track for the weekend is a nice touch – I always like to have one. There’s the Waltz Tennessee Williams talks about in the play and then the theme music for the play and the movie. I put some samples here you can click on from YouTube and then you can buy them on iTunes if you like them.

Waltz: La Golondrina

The Glass Menagerie, Original Music

The Glass Menagerie, Theme Music

Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis by Andrew B. Sterling and Kerry Mills and Judy Garland G

St. Louis Blues by W.C. Handy

Ghost of the St. Louis Blues by Leon Redbone

I’m a St. Louis Girl by Deanna Hansen

Sweet Little Sixteen by Chuck Berry

The Heart of Rock and Roll by Huey Lewis & The News

Show Me the Way to St. Louis by Little River Band

Literary Links

Tennessee Williams

There is a lot written about the funeral of Tennessee Williams.

I enjoyed this article about Williams.

Jewel Box

It turns out the Jewel Box is a big wedding venue.

Literary St. Louis

This is a nice read about the writers who came out of St Louis.

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