Sweet Bird of Youth (New Directions Paperbook) (Paperback)
New Directions Publishing Corporation, 9780811218078, 130pp.
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
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Sometime actor and full-time male hustler Chance Wayne returns to the Gulf Coast town of St. Cloud in an attempt to retrieve his lost innocence by reuniting with his high school girlfriend, Heavenly Finley. But Chance arrives there with his current employer, the drug-addicted, over-the- hill movie star, Alexandra Del Lago, who uses Chance, teaches him to use others, and doesn't intend to let him go. Chance learns that when he left St. Cloud years before, he left Heavenly with a crippling venereal disease. Heavenly's brother and her father--the powerful Boss Finley, a politician who has been responsible for local lynchings--have marked Chance as "a criminal degenerate" and plan to castrate him. Williams knew how to tell a good tale, and this gritty and wrenching play also reveals the dark side of the American dreams of youth and fame by implicating small town injustice, systemic racism, and the depth of suffering that results from personal and public corruption.