Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Fences and The Piano Lesson
Winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play
It is the spring of 1948. In the still cool evenings of Pittsburgh's Hill district, familiar sounds fill the air. A rooster crows. Screen doors slam. The laughter of friends gathered for a backyard card game rises just above the wail of a mother who has lost her son. And there's the sound of the blues, played and sung by young men and women with little more than a guitar in their hands and a dream in their hearts.
August Wilson's Seven Guitars is the sixth chapter in his continuing theatrical saga that explores the hope, heartbreak, and heritage of the African-American experience in the twentieth century. The story follows a small group of friends who gather following the untimely death of Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton, a local blues guitarist on the edge of stardom. Together, they reminisce about his short life and discover the unspoken passions and undying spirit that live within each of them.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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About the Author
From the Trade Paperback edition.
What People are Saying About This
"The seven guitars of the title are the seven characters whose straightforward story lines Wilson turns into beautiful, complex musica funky wailing, irresistible Chicago blues."
John Lahr, The New Yorker
"Riveting. . . . Wilson's mastery of time and character has never been more apparent."
"A play whose epic proportions and abundant spirit remind us of what the American theater once was. . . . As funny as it is moving and lyrical."
Vincent Canby, New York Times
"August Wilson is a remarkable American playwright. Seven Guitars is a formidably impressive tragi-comedy. This writing is as like and unlike Arthur Miller, as Duke Ellinton is as like and unlike Igor Stravinsky."
Clive Barnes, New York Post
"Full of quiet truth . . . mesmerizing . . . a major voice in our theater . . . unusually powerful."
Howard Kissel, New York Daily News
"A gritty, lyrical polyphony of voices that evokes the character and destiny of men and women who can't help singing the blues even when they're just talking. Bristles with symbolism, with rituals of word and action that explode into anguished eloquence and finally into violence."
Jack Kroll, Newsweek
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved August Wilson's Seven Guitars. It is a great illustration of black life in America. It was also my first time actually completing reading one of August Wilson's dramas. I had been hearing a lot a about and how a lot of praise was heaped upon him. As i read this play i found out why! Peep this: the play begins with the characters coming home from the funeral of Floyd 'Schoolboy' Barton, who was an up-and-coming blues singer and musician who was murdered (we will later find out that one of the characters killed him over some money). The play then goes back in time to the events leading up to the murder. We meet Floyd Barton and learn more about him. We are also introduced to the characters of Vera, his girlfriend, whom he left to go off with another woman named Pearl Brown when he went to Chicago to record his song 'That's Alright' which became a hit Red Carter and Canewell, two members of his band Hedley, a mentally impaired man who dreams of being a 'big man' Louise, the landlady and sort of 'big sister' figure to Vera who warns her of taking Floyd back, and Ruby, Louise's promiscuous 24-going on 25-year old niece who is a few weeks pregnant whom all the men take an immediate liking to--or more over, lust after. When we first meet Floyd, he is in talks with music producers about recording another song after the success of 'That's Alright.' He wants to mend the relationship he had with Vera and wants her to go with him to Chicago, but Vera is having doubts about his motives, whether he is coming back to her because Pearl left him or whether he really wants her back. He also has to convince both his bandmembers, Red Carter, who carries a gun, and Canewell, who carries a knife, to come with him to make the record, but they are having second thoughts as well. Floyd, like many black men in today, being how the play still resonates today as it did 12 years ago, feels like he has stalemated in life and that every where he tries to go, every positive step he tries to make, there is somebody blocking him from making that move that he feels is necessary and at some point he says that he is tired of it and he is going to get those people out of the way, even if he has to kill someone (irony, isn't it?). We also go on to find out that Hedley is a man who seeks forgiveness from his father for 'talking back' to him if you will. (Hint: Watch for the scene in which Hedley slices the rooster's throat the rooster is symbol of the black man.) The characters, while in the backyard of Louise's boardinghouse, will talk and argue about everything to whether Jesus bringing Lazarus back was a good thing (Hedley the affirmative and Canewell the negative, stating that Lazarus was free when he died and to come back from the dead he would have to come back and live this harsh life again) to whether a knife is better than a gun (Canewell says a knife will never go out of style). Like The Known World by Edward P. Jones, I didn't have a favorite character because I feel that everybody had a brilliantly developed story. I also loved the very simple and natural language of the characters. A very interesting and shocking parable on the plight of the black man.
Great Book. Now how about the complete works of this great playwright. I'll be waiting.