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About Sam Shepard
Sam Shepard was born in 1943 in Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He moved to New York from California just as the off-Broadway theatre scene was emerging. He has written more than forty plays, of which elev en have won 'Obie' awards, besides collections of stories, prose writing and screenplays. His plays include Buried Child, The Late Henry Moss, Simpatico, Curse of the Starving Class, True West, Fool for Love, A Lie of the Mind, and States of Shock. His screenplay for Paris, Texas won the Golden Pa lm Award at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival and he directed his own screenplay, Far North, in 1988. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Shepard received the Gold Medal for Drama from the Academy in 1992, and in 1994 he was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.
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This collection shares decades of correspondence between the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and one of his closest friends—including personal photos.
One of America’s leading dramatists, as well as an accomplished actor, screenwriter, and director, Sam Shepard’s legacy includes immortal plays like True West and Buried Child, as well as memorable film roles, including his Academy Award-nominated performance in The Right Stuff. Though Shepard remained an intensely private man, he wrote candidly about his life and work in letters to his close friend Johnny Dark. His former father-in-law, Dark became a surrogate brother to Shepard, and even an artistic muse. Two Prospectors gathers nearly forty years of correspondence and transcribed conversations between them.
In these letters, the men open themselves to each other with gripping honesty. Shepard’s letters give us the deepest look we will ever get into his personal philosophy and creative process, while in Dark’s letters we discover insights into Shepard’s character that only an intimate friend could provide. The writers also reflect on the books and authors that stimulate their thinking, their relationships with women (including Shepard’s anguished decision to leave his wife and son for actress Jessica Lange), personal struggles, and accumulating years.Illustrated with Dark’s photographs of Shepard and their mutual family across many years, as well as facsimiles of numerous letters, Two Prospectors is a compelling portrait of a complex friendship that anchored both lives for decades, a friendship also poignantly captured in Treva Wurmfeld’s film, Shepard & Dark.
A man traveling down Highway 90 West gets trapped alone overnight inside a Cracker Barrel restaurant, where he is tormented by an endless loop of Shania Twain songs on the overhead sound system. A wandering actor returns to his hometown against his better instincts and runs into an old friend, who recounts their teenage days of stealing cars, scoring Benzedrine, and sleeping with whores in Tijuana. A Minnesota family travels south for a winter vacation but, caught up in the ordinary tyrannies of family life, remains oblivious to the beauty of the Yucatán Peninsula. A solitary horse rancher muses on Sitting Bull and Beckett amid the jumble of stuff in his big country kitchen—from rusted spurs and Lakota dream-catchers to yellowing pictures of hawks and galloping horses to “snapshots of different sons in different shirts doing different things like fishing, riding mules and tractors; leaning up against their different mothers at radical angles.”
Made up of short narratives, lyrics, and dialogues, Day out of Days sets conversation against tale, song against memory, in a cubistic counterpoint that finally links each piece together. The result is a stunning work of vision and clarity imbued with the vivid reverberations of myth—Shepard at his flinty-eyed, unwavering best.
In searing, beautiful prose, Sam Shepard’s extraordinary narrative leaps off the page with its immediacy and power. It tells in a brilliant braid of voices the story of an unnamed narrator who traces, before our rapt eyes, his memories of work, adventure, and travel as he undergoes medical tests and treatments for a condition that is rendering him more and more dependent on the loved ones who are caring for him. The narrator’s memories and preoccupations often echo those of our current moment—for here are stories of immigration and community, inclusion and exclusion, suspicion and trust. But at the book’s core, and his, is family—his relationships with those he loved, and with the natural world around him. Vivid, haunting, and deeply moving, Spy of the First Person takes us from the sculpted gardens of a renowned clinic in Arizona to the blue waters surrounding Alcatraz, from a New Mexico border town to a condemned building on New York City’s Avenue C. It is an unflinching expression of the vulnerabilities that make us human—and an unbound celebration of family and life.
A scene of madness greets Vince and his girlfriend as they arrive at the squalid farmhouse of Vince’s hard-drinking grandparents, who seem to have no idea who he is. Nor does his father, Tilden, a hulking former All-American footballer, or his uncle, who has lost one of his legs to a chain saw. Only the memory of an unwanted child, buried in an undisclosed location, can hope to deliver this family from its sin.
This searing, extraordinarily evocative narrative opens with a man in his house at dawn, surrounded by aspens, coyotes cackling in the distance as he quietly navigates the distance between present and past. More and more, memory is overtaking him: in his mind he sees himself in a movie-set trailer, his young face staring back at him in a mirror surrounded by light bulbs. In his dreams and in visions he sees his late father—sometimes in miniature, sometimes flying planes, sometimes at war. By turns, he sees the bygone America of his childhood: the farmland and the feedlots, the railyards and the diners—and, most hauntingly, his father's young girlfriend, with whom he also became involved, setting into motion a tragedy that has stayed with him. His complex interiority is filtered through views of mountains and deserts as he drives across the country, propelled by jazz, benzedrine, rock and roll, and a restlessness born out of exile. The rhythms of theater, the language of poetry, and a flinty humor combine in this stunning meditation on the nature of experience, at once celebratory, surreal, poignant, and unforgettable.
Motel Chronicles reveals the fast-moving and sometimes surprising world of the man behind the plays that have made Sam Shepard a living legend in the theater.
Shepard chronicles his own life birth in Illinois, childhood memories of Guam, Pasadena and rural Southern California, adventures as ranch hand, waiter, rock musician, dramatist and film actor. Scenes from this book form the basis of his play Superstitions, and of the film (directed by Wim Wenders) Paris, Texas, winner of the Golden Palm Award at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival.
" . . . essential reading. A scrapbook of short stories, autobiographical reveries, poetry and photographs, Motel Chronicles is full of verbal delights, as well as insights into its author's entire canon. Whether Mr. Shepard is reminiscing about his parents or daydreaming about cherished movies and cars of his youth, he speaks in pungent and ethereal language that remakes our West. Read in conjunction with the plays, Motel Chronicles also helps demystify the origins of Mr. Shepard's psychological obsessions and desolate frontier iconography."—Frank Rich, New York Times
"If plays were put in time capsules, future generations would get a sharp-toothed profile of life in the U.S. in the past decade and half from the works of Sam Shepard."—Time
"Sam Shepard is a shaman—a New World shaman. Sam is as American as peyote, magic mushrooms, Rock and Roll, and medicine bundles."—Jack Gelber
Sam Shepard (1943) is a playwright, actor, author, screen writer and director whose work is performed on and off Broadway and in other theaters across the country. In 1979, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play Buried Child. In 1983, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in The Right Stuff. His other famous works include True West, A Lie of the Mind and Curse of the Starving Class. Fool For Love & the Sad Lament of Pecos Bill by Sam Shepard was also published by City Lights Publishers.
The Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Sam Shepard was invited to write a Fellini-esque film out of the chaos. Throughout the many moods and moments of his travels he kept an impressionistic logbook of life on the road, replete with poetry, sketches and intimate accounts: This is that logbook.
Updated with a myriad of candid photographs - many never before published - a foreword by T-Bone Burnett and a poetical preface from Sam Shepard, The Rolling Thunder Logbook perfectly captures the camaraderie, isolation, head games and pill-popping mayhem of the tour, providing a window into Dylan's singular talent, enigmatic charisma, and vision of America.
“The Rolling Thunder Revue was more fun than the law allows. By a long shot. It was a bus full of musicians and singers and painters hurtling through the dead of night, making a movie, writing songs, and playing some of the most incendiary, intense, and inspired rock ‘n’ roll, before or since.” T-Bone Burnett
An aging rock star in a world in which entertainment and street warfare go hand in hand, Hoss must defend himself against Crow, a newcomer who battles him for fame. Combining musical styles and intense dialogue in an unconventional musical-fantasy, Tooth of Crime riffs brilliantly on rising stars and fading legends, and rock lived and died for.
In Fool For Love, situated at a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, transient lovers May and Eddie spin around in a room in a relentless struggle for power and truth. Through recollections and dreams, multiple versions of a fierce and fatal love story are told.
The Sad Lament of Pecos Bill on the Eve of Killing His Wife, another kind of love story in the form of a comic operetta, takes a distaff view of the Southwest's legendary cowpuncher and his mate Slue-foot Sue, with irreverent commentary on American heroes and heroics.
"No one knows better than Sam Shepard that the true American West is gone forever, but there may be no writer alive more gifted at reinventing it out of pure literary air." -Frank Rich, The New York Times
"Mr. Shepard is the most deeply serious humorist of the American theater, and a poet with no use whatever for the 'poetic.' He brings fresh news of love, here and now, in all its potency and deviousness and foolishness, and of many other matters as well." -Edith Oliver, The New Yorker
Sam Shepard (1943) is a playwright, actor, author, screen writer, and director whose work is performed on and off Broadway and in other theaters across the country. In 1979, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play Buried Child. In 1983, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in The Right Stuff. His other famous works include True West, A Lie of the Mind, and Curse of the Starving Class.
A boy watches a “remedy man” tame a wild stallion, a contest that mirrors his own struggle with his father. A woman driving her mother’s ashes across the country has a strangely transcendent run-in with an injured hawk. Two aging widowers, in Stetsons and bolo ties, together make a daily pilgrimage to the local Denny’s, only to be divided by the attentions of their favorite waitress. Peering unblinkingly into the chasms that separate fathers and sons, husbands and wives, friends and strangers, these powerful tales bear the unmistakable signature of an American master.