Cruising Paradise by Sam Shepard

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From the intensely admired Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, actor, musician, writer, ex-cowboy, a burst of pure storytelling: 40 swiftly told tales in the unmistakable voice of Sam Shepard.

A boy travels to a desolate roadside inn to retrieve the charred mattress on which his drunken father burned to death. A mortified actor is stonewalled by a female bureaucrat in a Mexican border town -- until he identifies himself as Spencer Tracy. A man and a woman quarrel desperately in a South Dakota motel room and part company for reasons that remain mysterious to them both. Two kids raise a wolf pup ordered from a mail-order catalog, then set it free on the railroad tracks. A movie crew conducts its business beneath the baking Mexican sun, oblivious to the Indian voladores ("Flying Men") who sail above their heads in a magic ritual older than Cortez.

Terse, lyric, alive, these tales range in key from the sad to the hilarious. Some are rounded stories, some are miniatures, some are dialogues at once cryptic and mesmerizing, some are excerpts from an actor's diary. Together they present their author's singular vision of ancestry and childhood, sexual passion and betrayal, family and fame, in a voice as spare as an Arizona mesa, as quintessentially American as a 40's jazz song. Cruising Paradise is a book that locates places where our culture is defined -- and at the same time brings us closer than we have yet been to a writer who has become synonymous with the recklessness, stoicism, and solitude of American manhood.

About Sam Shepard

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Sam Shepard has written forty-five plays, twelve of which have won Obie Awards. In 1979 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Buried Child, and in 1984 he gained an Oscar nomination for his performance in The Right Stuff. His screenplay for Paris, Texas won the Golden Palm Award at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, and he wrote and directed the film Far North in 1988. Other plays by Shephard include Curse of the Starving Class, True West, Fool for Love, and A Lie of the Mind. In 1986 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Published April 30, 1996 by Alfred A. Knopf. 239 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A dozen of the pieces are presented as the dead-on notes of an actor making a film in Mexico (the film sounds remarkably like Voyager, a 1990 feature in which Shepard starred).

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It is not that the writing is bad, just structurally, the tales are merely moments, and whenever Shepard is onto something good, the tale ends.

Nov 24 2009 | Read Full Review of Cruising Paradise: Tales

Entertainment Weekly

In Cruising Paradise, a collection of ''tales'' that range from journallike anecdotes to fully plotted stories, Shepard mines his signature themes, which include drunken dads, picaresque Western road trips, and romantic dramas between men and women whose signals are permanently crossed.

May 31 1996 | Read Full Review of Cruising Paradise: Tales

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