5 stars for one of the most significant literary/theatrical endeavors of the last century, August Wilson's cycle of ten plays, a decade-by-decade chronicle of ordinary African-American family life from 1900-2000, elevated to the extraordinary by some of the most powerful poetic diction ever to grace the American stage; Wilson was the successor and peer of Eugene O'Neill and Tenessee Williams, refracted through the sensibility of James Baldwin. The bars, the churches, the backporch, the white-picket fence front yard, the crack-vial strewn alleys, the jails, the recording studios, the ballparks, this was the terrain Wilson took us through, no place was alien to him, every character, old , young, male, female, upwardly mobile, downwardly spiraling, or just holding on, saint and sinner had their gospel and blues-drenched monologue/moment in the spotlight. These ten linked plays are essential reading, and bear in mind Wilson kept himself alive while through sheer force of will while in the throes of a terminal illness to make sure he finished the cycle. And for the first time ever, all ten have been housed in one volume.
So why oh why has the tome been priced in the three figures, beyond the scope of the very people who would most benefit by reading it? A sin and a shame...one star to the publisher, Mr. Wilson's estate, whoever thought this gouging was necessary.