Langston Hughes’s defiant vow — “America will be!” — is a clarion call for Franco Wicks. The aspiring young writer, a key character in Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts, has borrowed it for the title of his own novel, a bundle of manuscripts tied together with string that he hopes will be his ticket out of inner-city poverty in Chicago. His boss at the donut shop where he works, a morose 60-year-old Polish-American named Arthur Przybyszewski (Arthur P for short), recognizes his writing talent but discourages him from trying to do anything with it — because, in Arthur’s lifetime of missed opportunities and failed connections, hope is not to be trusted. “The core of the Polish character,” he says at one point,
“is hopelessness.”

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