Top positive review
Not a major work but it fascinates
Reviewed in the United States on December 2, 2003
MOTEL CHRONICLES was recommended on a website devoted to journal writing. It is non-sequential and many of the entries have the shape of honed work but all the same it is a good example of a writer's sketchbook, one used for practice and inspiration. More importantly, it is a window on Shepard's frame of mind in the years immediately following the Pulitzer Prize for BURIED CHILD. The seeds of later works can be found in this book.
The entries swim back and forth from 1978 -1982, mapping the writer's peripatetic movement around the country, mostly in California and the west. It captures bits of his early identities, military childhood on the move, waiter, cowboy, actor, writer, friend, lover, husband, father. It is framed by portraits of being a child, the first entry is one of his earliest childhood memories in his mother's arms; the last is the adult caring for a mother felled by a brain aneurysm. This is no confessional or revealing autobiographical piece, however, just a writer at work pulling out inspiration from experience. Shepard is highly articulate, his portrayal of the contemporary west is priceless, and his poetry is not bad at all. The writing has an honest, non-star-turn quality to it.