Synopses & Reviews
In these eighteen elegantly terse stories, Sam Shepard taps the same wellsprings that have made him one of our most acclaimed and distinctly American playwrights: sex and regret, the yearning for a frontier that has been subdivided out of existence, the comic gulf of misapprehension between men and women, and the even deeper gulf that separates men from their true selves.
A fascinated boy watches the grim contest between a "remedy man" a fixer of bad horses and a spectacularly bad-tempered stallion, a contest that mirrors the boy's own struggle with his father. A suburban husband starts his afternoon shopping for basil for a party and ends it holding one of the guests at gunpoint in the basement. Two old men, who have lived together companionably since their wives died or left them and their children scattered to "silicon computer hell," are brought to grief by a waitress at the local Dennys.
Filled with absurdity, sorrow, and flinty humor, Great Dream of Heaven is Shepard at his best, exercising his gifts for diamond-sharp physical description and effortless dialogue in stories that recall the themes he has explored with such singular intensity in his work for the theater.
"Extraordinary by any measure....With this collection [Shepard] becomes a storyteller in the purest sense." The New York Times Book Review
"Varied and risky, with brilliances and blunders on an occasional basis." Kirkus Reviews
"These are wonderful stories, by turns intuitive and well-wrought, satisfyingly unpredictable, smart, irreverent, knowledgeable about important human matters, often quite sweet, and at all times a pure pleasure to read. Mr. Shepard absolutely makes the form be his own, and for that reason these stories are irresistible." Richard Ford, author of A Multitude of Sins
"Strong emotions...make a Sam Shepard story as familiar as an old leather saddle....Shepard's terse, lyrical style excels....There's something broadly American...about the frustrations his characters feel." The San Francisco Chronicle
"Shepard's sometimes startling stories depict moments in which daily life is shaken by the wildness of nature or human impulse. Though some of these tales are contrived or slight, Shepard at his best is a compelling, beautiful writer." James Schiff, Book Magazine
"Devastatingly artful....Brutal and satisfying....In their careful craft and mysterious revelations, the best stories in Great Dream of Heaven recall...Chekhov." Minneapolis Star Tribune
Shocking....Often funny....Shepard's writing is consistently excellent." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
About the Author
Sam Shepard is the Pulitzer Prize—winning author of more than forty-five plays. He was a finalist for the W. H. Smith Literary Award for Great Dream of Heaven and has also written the story collection Cruising Paradise, two collections of prose pieces, Motel Chronicles and Hawk Moon, and Rolling Thunder Logbook, a diary of Bob Dylans 1975 Rolling Thunder Review tour. As an actor he has appeared in more than thirty films, and he received an Oscar nomination in 1984 for his performance in The Right Stuff. His screenplay for Paris, Texas won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, and he wrote and directed the film Far North in 1988. Shepards plays, eleven of which have won Obie Awards, include Buried Child, The Late Henry Moss, Simpatico, Curse of the Starving Class, True West, Fool for Love, and A Lie of the Mind, which won a New York Drama Desk Award. 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. He lives in Minnesota.