When Melanie McCabe's father died in 1973, she learned a startling truth about his life before he settled into a quiet suburban existence. Terrence McCabe had been married before; his first wife, Hazel, was Tennessee Williams' childhood sweetheart; and Williams wrote characters based on both of them, and their marriage, into his plays. As an adult, Melanie set off to discover the real story behind her father's former life, enlisting help from librarians, amateur genealogists, and Tennessee Williams' own writings to fill in the blanks. At the center of the investigation is the perplexing death of Hazel, who died at age 38 while living in Mexico City. Was it suicide? Was it an accident? And who was the unknown man with her when she died? Part memoir, part love story, part gripping mystery, His Other Life is moving for what it reveals about the tragedies of falling in love, getting married, and trying to create a life.
"Finding clues sends her down a rabbit hole of biographies, old pictures, ancestral records, letters, unpublished novels, court documents, and desperate cross-country searches for living descendants; each new piece is another layer to an increasingly complex puzzle. A compelling personal and literary detective story." -- Kirkus Reviews
"McCabe's eloquent determination to investigate this mystery, sleuthing online, contacting descendants, and entering archives full of "carbon paper and ghosts," gives His Other Life a historical and literary resonance that is charged with modern energy." -- Meg Nola, Foreword Reviews
Melanie McCabe is a high school teacher in Arlington, Virginia. Her most recent book of poems, What The Neighbors Know, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2014, and was awarded honorable mention in the 2015 Library of Virginia Awards. Her first book of poetry, History of the Body, was published by David Robert Books in 2012. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Daily, Best New Poets 2010, The Georgia Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Cincinnati Review, Bellingham Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and numerous other journals, as well as in two Bedford-St. Martin's college textbooks.