Desire is a lonely state of mind.
The Mysteries of the Joy Rio An aging ‘illegal’ who had been taken in some 18 years earlier by an elderly, ailing patron who ran a clock-repair shop, seeks comfort and release in the dark closed-off levels of an old theater where he, once again, is given safety, love and the gift of time by his benefactor.
One Arm A one-armed young man, an ex-boxer and ex-hustler, sits in his Death Row cell awaiting execution with his stack of “unpaid bills”—letters from men whose lives he touched.
Desire and the Black Masseur A small, insignificant white man and a giant, imposing Black masseuse in a high mass Passion play.
Hard Candy The elderly, secretive, and obese Mr. Krupper annoys his equally obese, obnoxious family a final time before becoming another of the mysteries of the Joy Rio theater mentioned above.
The Killer Chicken and the Closet Queen A 30ish, single, Wall Street lawyer, finds unexpected deliverance after deceiving his wealthy mother concerning the reality of a long-time girlfriend, but then…Moody. Gothic. Sensual. Bleak. One very funny story, but most are ulitmately sad—very sad—perhaps most likely to strike chords in readers of a certain age who know that in the days before Pride, there was much not to be proud of.
Gore Vidal’s foreword, in toto:
The stories and Vidal’s ‘foreward’ are extracted from Collected Stories, and the stories, like Vidal’s foreword, are just enough.Tennessee’s stories need no explication. So here they are. Some are marvelous—“Desire and the Black Masseur”: some are wonderfully crazed—“The Killer Chicken,” “The Mysteries of the Joy Rio.” So what are they about? Well, there used to be two streetcars in New Orleans. One was named Desire and the other was called Cemeteries. To get where you were going, you changed from the first to the second. In these stories and plays, Tennessee validated with his genius our common ticket to transfer.”