What Do I Read Next?
Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights Brooklyn and Other Identities (1992), like Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 is from Smith's On the Road series and employs the same technique. Its focus event is the rioting in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn after the accidental killing of a black child by a Jewish rabbi. Text available as an Anchor Book from Doubleday.
The Hunger Wall, is a collection of poems by James Ragan, inspired by the Los Angeles civil unrest of 1992 and the peaceful breakup of the former Czechoslovakia a month later (Grove Press, 1995).
Spell #7 (1979), a play by Ntozke Shange, offers a tremendous contrast to Smith's work in technique, although both writers are African American women interested in efforts to find an identity in a white-dominated culture.
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), James Agee' s photo-essay study of Georgia sharecroppers gives voice to the anonymous, unheard common man as Smith does in her On the Road series of plays.
Working (1974) and Coming of Age (1995), two anthologies of oral histories compiled by Studs Terkel, the common man's historian, which record the voices of ordinary folk interviewed by the author. Smith acknowledges Terkel as one of her mentors; Coming of Age is available from The New Press; Working is available from Ballantine Books.
"The Street Scene" (1938), Bertolt Brecht's brief essay on primitive ' 'epic theater,'' which excludes the "engendering of illusion" that characterizes traditional theater. Critics have discussed Smith work in terms of Brecht's theories and practice.
I Am a Man (1995), by Oyamo (Charles Gordon), a play about the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers' strike, deals with the civil rights struggle from the perspective of the * 'unheard,'' common man to whom Smith also gives a voice. The focus is on T. O. Jones, a sort of Everyman who sets out to right social injustices.
The Coming Race War in America: A Wake-Up Call, by syndicated columnist Carl T. Rowan, investigates the nation's "violent decline" and the lack of change for the vast majority of minority Americans since the civil rights upheaval of the 1960s (available from Little, Brown, 1996).