Two Prospectors by Sam Shepard
The Letters of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark

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By the end, they are discussing the very letters project that became the book. A bright pathway directly into the hearts and minds of two compelling men.


Sam Shepard is arguably America’s finest working dramatist, as well as an accomplished screenwriter, actor, and director. Winner of a Pulitzer Prize, he has written more than forty-five plays, including True West, Fool for Love, and Buried Child. Shepard has also appeared in more than fifty films, beginning with Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in The Right Stuff. Despite the publicity his work and life have attracted, however, Shepard remains a strongly private man who has said many times that he will never write a memoir. But he has written intensively about his inner life and creative work to his former father-in-law and housemate, Johnny Dark, who has been Shepard’s closest friend, surrogate brother (they’re nearly the same age), and even artistic muse for forty-five years and counting.

Two Prospectors gathers nearly forty years of correspondence and transcribed conversations between Shepard and Dark. In these gripping, sometimes gut-wrenching letters, the men open themselves to each other with amazing honesty. Shepard’s letters give us the deepest look we may 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—Dark’s stepdaughter and grandson—for actress Jessica Lange), personal struggles, and accumulating years. Illustrated with Dark’s candid, revealing 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 has anchored both lives for decades, a friendship also poignantly captured in Treva Wurmfeld’s film, Shepard & Dark.


About Sam Shepard

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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 his story collection Great Dream of Heaven, and he 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 Dylan's 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. Shepard's 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. Chad Hammett teaches at Texas State University–San Marcos, from which he received an M.F.A. in fiction.
Published October 15, 2013 by University of Texas Press. 399 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Jun 23 2013

By the end, they are discussing the very letters project that became the book. A bright pathway directly into the hearts and minds of two compelling men.

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