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Two Trains Running (Drama, Plume) Paperback – 1 January 1993
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August Wilson established himself as one of our most distinguished playwrights with his insightful, probing, and evocative portraits of Black America and the African American experience in the twentieth century. With the mesmerizing Two Trains Running, he crafted what Time magazine called “his most mature work to date.”
It is Pittsburgh, 1969, and the regulars of Memphis Lee’s restaurant are struggling to cope with the turbulence of a world that is changing rapidly around them and fighting back when they can. The diner is scheduled to be torn down, a casualty of the city’s renovation project that is sweeping away the buildings of a community, but not its spirit. For just as sure as an inexorable future looms right around the corner, these people of “loud voices and big hearts” continue to search, to father, to persevere, to hope. With compassion, humor, and a superb sense of place and time, Wilson paints a vivid portrait of everyday lives in the shadow of great events.
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“Vivid and uplifting… pure poetry… remarkable!”—Time
“A symphonic composition with a rich lode of humanity running through it.”—Los Angeles Times
“His language is golden: rich in humor and poetry and redolent of a colorful vernacular.”—Wall Street Journal
“Has an unassailable authenticity… a lot of life and a lot of humor… By the end, a small world has been utterly transformed.”—Variety
“These characters are fully imagined—they live… reeling out stories about their past, their angers, their dreams.”—Washington Post
“Wilson’s most adventurous and honest attempt to reveal the intimate nature of history… glorious storytelling… touching and often funny… a penetrating revelation of a world hidden from view.”—Frank Rich, The New York Times
About the Author
- Publisher : Plume; Reprint edition (1 January 1993)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 128 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0452269296
- ISBN-13 : 978-0452269293
- Item Weight : 119 g
- Dimensions : 13.21 x 1.02 x 20.32 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #649,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from other countries
Memphis is frustrated and angry: he was run off his farm in Mississippi (with an allusion to The Piano Lesson (The August Wilson Century Cycle) ), and now faces being run off of his business in Pittsburgh. Hambone, a homless (and possibly mentally ill) customer has similarly been cheated. Reflecting on the American Dream, Halloway says, "People kill me talking about (African-Americans) is lazy. (African-Americans) is the most hardworking people in the world. Worked three hundered years for free. And didn't take no lunch hour. Now all of a sudden (African-Americans) is lazy. Don't know how to work. All of a sudden when they got to pay (African-Americans), ain't no work for him to do."
Wilson, however, asks us to consider whether the "American Dream" is merely about making money - both Wolf and West have made their money by exploiting and taking advantage of others, seeking to pull themselves up at the expense of their community. Sterling pays a visit to Mama Esther at 1839 Wylie (an allusion to Gem of the Ocean , where Mama Esther will "make you right") and is indeed made right, forgoing money in favor of love. This is reiterated by Holloway who tells the audience, "That's all you got. You got love and you got death. Death will find you ... it's up to you to find love. That's where most people fall down at. Death got room for everybody. Love pick and choose. ... most people won't admit that. ... Love got a price to it. Everybody don't want to pay. They put it on credit. Time it come due they got it on credit somewhere else."
I was profoundly moved by _Two Trains Running_ - a reference to the fact that in life, there are always choices, always two trains running in different directions. Wilson, as with his other plays, poses profound questions about who we are as a nation, about the African-American experience, and that experience in the broader context of being an American. Here, however, he asks us to reconsider what choices we've made and what our values as individuals are. As if his other work hadn't already made him an American classic, _Two Trains Running_ certainly would. As with his other work, if you have an opportunity to see it performed, do not miss it.