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Jitney Paperback – Dec 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Press; Reprint edition (Dec. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585673706
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585673704
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.7 x 0.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,351,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 9 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
JITNEY is the best play I have ever seen. 1 Feb. 2002
By PETER ROWAN - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
August Wilson's Jitney opened off-broadway in New York in the Spring of 2001. I saw the play 3 times within 3 weeks, and I took my father the last. It isn't about seeing a play. It's about experiencing and sharing hope.
Set in Pittsburgh, PA of the 1970's, the play centers around jitney/car service drivers as they try to let go of the past, and embrace future changes in themselves and their environment. They're decent, hard working middle-aged black men who are questioning their lives, wondering if they accomplished enough, made mistakes, or have been lead astray and are desparately trying to find a way to rectify themselves, even warn the angry young not to make the same mistakes.
The main story is about Becker, the owner of the Jitney and his relationship with his son Booster, who was recently released from a 20 year prison sentence for killing a rich white society girl after she falsely testified he was rapist. Becker has always been a pillar to his community, and he has never forgiven or understood his son's act. Booster, who could have been another Albert Einstein, was barely twenty when killed the girl. Because of changing times and laws, he was spared the death penalty, but not until after his mother dies of a broken heart, which is something Becker holds Booster responsible for. Will Becker forgive Booster? Is Booster sorry? What will become of Booster, a once promising scholar, who, it seems, has thrown the important years of his life away. Will Becker hold onto the Jitney or will it be demolished to make way for a mall or something similar. Will the young Vietnam Vet be able to close on the house that will make life better for his young family?
What I particularly liked about this play is that, right or wrong, the characters believably argue their convictions. It's as if the audience is deciding who's right. Events are never slanted. While there are a number of powerful scenes, the one that stands out for me is the reunion between Becker and Booster as Booster tries to justify why he killed the girl. The play is never preachy or slanted.
The play kept me and a packed audience on the edge of our seats, literally, up until and including the last word. Each time I went, the play was met with automatic standing ovation.
Whether you're an actor looking for something to sink your teeth in or a person that appreciates a skillfully action and character driven play, Jitney is worth reading. I went 3 times for the language and skillfully developed scenes.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A man of honor and his imprisoned son 15 Mar. 2005
By RIZZO _*.*_ - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's clear to say, that one outstanding act in this play may be one of August Wilson's most powerful and emotional. It is a scene where a proud father who refused his son for twenty years now encounters him when he is released from prison for murder.

In the series of plays that chronicle the black experience, Jitney is set in the early 70s and is about jitney (car service) drivers who provide low fares to the black community in Pittsburgh. The setting is in a dilapidated section of town that is experiencing the city boarding up buildings, a practice that characteristically doesn't result in improvements. The building that houses the car service with that of several men's livelihood is considered for boarding up.

The characters are young and old, a busybody, an alcoholic, a young father, a Korean war vets, etc. These characters have minor stories, but nothing as profound as the main character, 60ish Becker, who manages the jitney car service. It is his son Booster who was spared the death penalty and is released from prison.

At that time of the murder, many young blacks did not take well the treatment from whites that their parents were subjected too. These younger blacks grew up with an attitude and were shamed that their parents didn't stand up to white folks. The younger generation resorts to violence. Consequently, Becker's son Booster kills a white girl for lying that she was raped by him.

Becker, a man of honor, is humiliated by the actions of his son. Becker also confirms that Booster's mother died very soon after sentencing. She could not bear to hear from the judge ...."that the life she brought in the world was unfit to live."

This lengthy exchange of dialogue between Beck and his son is profound and with Act 1 Scene 3 and 4 makes up the entire worth of the play.....Rizz
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Very Good 17 Jun. 2005
By R. Albin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
August Wilson is the greatest American playwright. Not the greatest living American playwright, but the greatest, period. His best plays stand comparison with the best work of Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller, and Tennessee Williams. No American playwright has produced such a consistent body of work, and no American playwright has attempted a cycle with the scope and ambition of his series of plays. Wilson's subject is the Great Migration, the story of the African-Americans who emigrated from the southern states to the cities of the industrial North and their slow construction of satisfactory lives in the difficult and changing world of 20th century America. Wilson has written 10 plays on this subject, one for each decade of the 20th century, amounting to a fictional history of African-Americans in the urban North. This is, however, history from below. Wilson's heroes are garbagemen, short-order cooks, day laborers, self-taught musicians, and street vendors. One of his great gifts is his ability to use common speech in a way that is consistently interesting, frequently eloquent, and often powerful. He gives poetic voice to people usually regarded as inarticulate and invests ordinary struggles with real but not exaggerated significance. The African-Americans of Wilson's plays are a doubly uprooted people. Uprooted initially by the grievous trauma of slavery that sundered their connection with their native traditions, the emigrants fleeing the Jim Crow south and its brutal racism are uprooted also from their homes, families, and the traditions developed in the aftermath of slavery.

Wilson's overall story is the reconstruction of African-American identity and family life in the cities of the North over the course of the 20th century. Wilson's plays often feature protagonists whose sense of identity and families have been damaged greatly by the oppressions of racism and the atomizing effects of the industrial economy of the North. Over the course of the cycle, Wilson shows characters re-establishing a sense of connection with their ancestors, even back to Africa, and gradually developing the family ties to sustain them. Wilson repeatedly uses supernatural elements in his work, particularly as a device to advance his theme of the importance of developing a sense of historic connection with ancestors, including those originally abducted from Africa. This could easily be hokey, but his matter of fact use of these elements is very effective. Another recurring theme is the importance of music, particularly the Blues tradition developed by African-American musicians, which he sees as a vital and creative force in African-American life, often carrying truths across generations. Some of the most affecting parts of Wilson's work are his demonstrations of the direct and indirect destructive effects of American racism on family life. Even more powerful are those scenes in which his characters overcome these obstacles to reaffirm family connections.

Not all of Wilson's plays are outstanding, but all are at least very good. Readers will differ on their favorites. In my opinion, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Fences, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom are outstanding. The rest vary from excellent (The Piano Lession) to the very good. Cumulatively, they are a really impressive achievement. Mention must be made of the fact that Wilson has been aided by outstanding collaborators. Wilson's plays usually go through a series of versions before the final version emerges. Wilson has had the benefit of working with unusually talented directors, notably the gifted Lloyd Richards, who was responsible in large measure for recognizing Wilson's talent. Wilson has benefited also from the existence of a whole generation of remarkably talented African-American actors. These people made it possible for Wilson to realize his vision. We have all been the beneficiaries of the work of Wilson and his collaborators.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"You want to make something of your life, then the opportunity is there." 22 Aug. 2011
By doc peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
_Jitney_ is set in 1977: the energy crisis is in full swing, and the nation is heading towards a recession. In Pittsburgh, Becker runs the jitney station - an underground, unofficial taxi serving the African-American community. The pace of the play is slow and meditative as the jitney drivers banter and run the dozens on each other; the plot is subtle - the drivers are working-class men simply trying to make ends meet, each with very different perspectives on where life is taking them. Youngblood is a Vietnam veteran who is struggling to realize the "American dream," hoping to buy a house for the mother of his child. Becker, the owner of the jitney station is facing its closure by the city and the recent release of his son, Booster, from prison. Booster is starting his life anew after serving 20 years for murder.

As these characters tease and verbally spar with each other, Wilson shows a variety of perspectives on the African-American experience in the late 20th century. As Youngblood put it, "If you can't change the way you look at me ... then I might as well surrender now. I can't beat your memory of who I was if you can't see I've changed. ... no matter what I do, I can't never do it right, 'cause all you see is the way I used to be. ... You don't see I've changed." This is echoed by Booster, who later in the play says, "... I decided right then that dreams didn't mean anything in this world. You could be the president or a bishop or something like that. You can dream you got more money than Rockerfeller. See what happens when you wake up." In spite of these broken dreams and the sense of inevitable failure, Wilson continues to offer hope to his characters, much as America continues to offer hope to its downtrodden.

The barbershop banter and lack of action makes for a pensive piece, much more so than many of Wilson's other plays. It is a powerful play nonetheless.
simply wonderful. 24 Mar. 2015
By Elijah Toney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have yet to read it but I know and have seen the play, simply wonderful. Eli
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