If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I have many obsessions: libraries, Rosa Parks, Three Girls Bakery, Mount Rainier, and–oh yeah–buses. You might not know, since I have not thus far had occasion to write about it here, that I am also obsessed with August Wilson.
I am a huge August Wilson fan. The first time I saw one of his plays staged (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at the Alley Theater in Houston, back when I was a student at Rice) was transformational for me. The man has an unmatched ear for dialogue, and [ahem] I happen to enjoy listening to people talk. It’s one of the primary reasons I love the bus.
Apparently, Wilson enjoyed buses for the same reason. Transit geek/novelist Dolen Perkins-Valdez just hipped me to the fact that the famed playwright, a resident of our fair city (incidentally, another of my obsessions) from 1990 until his death in 2005, rode Metro. A lot.
All these years of semi-stalking the man, and I didn’t know. It wasn’t mentioned in any of the zillions of bios I read about him over the years–or at either of the memorials I attended after his death. And yet, all it took was a quick online search to confirm* Dolen’s assertion. August Wilson did, indeed, ride the bus–probably, given the location of his home and his regular haunts–a lot of the same routes I frequent.**
So, it seems that, in addition to providing us time to enjoy the creative work of others, riding transit can also aid the creative process. Toni Morrison (yet another of my obsessions) has said she used her subway rides to work on her first novel, and, as I’ve just discovered, Wilson found inspiration (and probably a lot of material) on the bus. Perhaps I should break out my own (10-year-old-and-as-yet-unpublished) novel. After all, a good quarter of it was written en route.
*This article is in the Boston Globe archives, and I had to pay to read it. I doubt the link will actually show the full text.
**Too bad we never (that I know of) shared a ride. Even my friend Aileen, who boasts of actually meeting him at Red and Black Books back in the day, would be jealous.