When Nancy Schoenberger...announced early in her new book, Blanche, that she planned to include a few sonnets written from the perspective of DuBois’s ill-fated, unseen young husband, as well as a hypothetical obituary in The Times-Picayune describing how her subject turned her life around after psychiatric treatment, I … yes, blanched ... Messing with another writer’s characters tends to be tricky business ... Schoenberger...has now written a lean but graceful character study of DuBois, giving Williams’s most indelible but also frequently misunderstood character her due ... She...relies heavily, though with a light touch, on previously published material, of which there is no shortage. Talking to a journalist about playing DuBois can resemble a particularly wrenching therapy session ... I’m not sure Blanche, which can waft and flit like the butterfly-like creature it chronicles, will satisfy true Williams junkies. But if you’re unfamiliar with this great American classic, or have perhaps let high-school memories of it lapse, this book is a hell of a gateway drug.
Schoenberger is not only a gifted writer; she is also a daughter of the Deep South, New Orleans in particular ... Schoenberger knows a Southern woman is expected to appear cool and collected, pretty and painted, patient and sweet, no matter what the weather or her desires might be doing to her. In this environment, Blanche requires a mask of respectability, but the mask is thin, tattered, ill-fitting ... Her composition of an obituary for Blanche is priceless. A line from the obit: 'Before her death, Miss DuBois requested that in lieu of donations, please send flowers.' I imagined Tennessee reading that, laughing heartily, and raising a glass to Nancy Schoenberger.
Aside from three interviews, Schoenberger has relied largely on secondary sources, but she has chosen them exceedingly well, giving us a full-dress portrait. The author asks, 'Does Blanche still matter?' Readers of this fine book will answer with a resounding ye