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Day out of Days: Stories by Sam Shepard

Day out of Days: Stories

by Sam Shepard

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Shepard is no Barthelme. Some of his recurrent images resonate with me but his attempts to come off as casual and everymanish just feel like lazy writing. What's up with obsession with mutilated heads? ( )
  librarianbryan | Apr 20, 2012 |
This is exactly the kind of collection that one would hope to stumble across while rummaging through Sam Shepard's cupboards. There would be a kind of voyeuristic magic in that scenario. Unfortunately, the brevity of this otherwise engaging melange of miscellany renders the suggested retail price a bit excessive. An enterprising reader can get through the whole book in a single day; there's a lot of blank space on the pages. In this sense, it has more in common with a book of short poems... except without the impacted depth of same. Even so, it is both charming and quintessentially Shepard. ( )
  Narboink | Jun 10, 2011 |
Lots of great one- and two-page stories in this collection. Vivid scenes of life along the highways of America and Mexcico. Little slices of life (and death). Some of the best stories are pure dialogue. One-act plays, in effect. Others are more like random memories than stories. There are some longer, more traditional pieces as well. A smattering of poems, too. It's all good. ( )
  AlRiske | Sep 7, 2010 |
Day Out of Days

I felt a sense of guilt as I started reading this collection of short stories by Sam Shepard. It seemed as if I was reading someone’s journal, their diary, with all their personal ramblings being exposed to me, a stranger. I got over that, and went on to really enjoy this collection that contains very short stories, snippets of conversations, memories, poems, observations, and random musings. Shepard writes in the voice of a distant loner, hardened by truth and reality but still seeking, looking for a kind of lost artifact or talisman.

Some of the poems have titles, but most are simple and unadorned. Without the title (and sometimes without punctuation) you are left to figure out the point, and each reader could likely come away with a different impression.

Horses racing men
Mummies on the mend
What’s all this gauze bandaging
Unraveled down the stairs
Has come apart
In here
Something without end (p. 126)

In “Rosebud, South Dakota (Highway 83 North)” he describes a deceptively simple scene:

Lakota church, “Open to Anyone”, it says, but no one’s here. Not a single sorry soul. And it’s the Sabbath too. Imagine that. Sunday abandoned. Just constant wind ripping across the tattered yards and buried fences. Constant endless prairie breath. Like it’s always been. Now and evermore. Unrelenting. Raw. And could care less about the state of the Union.

Shepard’s subjects are dry, tired, lost, searching, guilty, sarcastic, sardonic, and grim. They inhabit truck stops, rest stops, desert paths and windy valleys. Remarkably, reading these doesn’t feel depressing or dispiriting. Instead, it’s almost like putting a story behind that stranger you noticed outside the diner’s plate glass window, or hitchhiking outside of town, or passing you on the open rural road in that old dirty Ford pickup. ( )
  BlackSheepDances | Mar 1, 2010 |
Showing 4 of 4
No writer wants to be seen trying -- Shepard's generation, in particular, has prized a seeming effortlessness -- but you can hear the gears grinding in his writing, especially in these stories, and it's part of their deep, abiding appeal. Even better, it's part of their usefulness.
Using fanciful anecdotes, lyric riffs, seemingly lifelike reminiscences and quotes from our nation’s founding thinkers, [Shepard] drills down through the strata of our history into the bedrock of American myth.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307265404, Hardcover)

From one of our most admired writers: a collection of stories set mainly in the fertile imaginative landscape of the American West, written with the terse lyricism, cinematic detail, and wry humor that have become Sam Shepard’s trademarks.

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:40 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In a series of tales set mainly in the West, a man is trapped inside a restaurant where an endless loop of Shania Twain songs is playing, an actor recounts his teenage debaucheries with an old friend, and a squabbling family remains oblivious to their Yucatan vacation.… (more)

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