Cruising Paradise by Sam Shepard – Review

It’s hard to know what to make of this collection of tales by Sam Shepard. It can almost be divided into two halves, the first a collection of western tales and the second a collection centering around an actor and his dealings with the movie business. The first half shines noticeably brighter than the second half. When Shepard transitions to the stories that center largely around movies, he seems to lose a bit of his clarity, the characters become sort of muddled, the point of the stories seem to drift.

In these stories we have Shepard revisiting themes he has dealt with over the course of his career.  From growing up to growing old, from love to isolation, it’s material you can’t help but get the impression that he’s covered before, and better, in his plays and in other, similar collections such as his Motel Chronicles. It’s an enjoyable read but much of the collection flits by so quickly, it simply doesn’t leave much of an impression with the reader. But when you manage to cram 40 stories into 239 pages, this should probably be expected.

If you’re new to Shepard, this isn’t something I’d suggest. But if you’ve read Shepard before, if you’ve enjoyed him, you’re going to enjoy this. There is nothing about it that will come out of the blue, but also nothing that will be particularly exciting. It’s just Sam Shepard writing Sam Shepard.

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