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Great Dream of Heaven: Stories

1 rating: 1.0
A book by Sam Shepard

In his second collection of short fiction,Great Dream of Heaven, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard offers a resonant examination of interpersonal crisis and revelation in 18 lean tales. At times humorous, tense, and tragic, these stories … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Sam Shepard
Publisher: Vintage
1 review about Great Dream of Heaven: Stories

Handsome Is As Handsome Does?

  • Jul 13, 2010
A little too slick, a little too quick. There are eighteen stories in this collection and they all read like magazine short-shorts, so I'm surprised to note that only two of them were first printed in mags. I catch myself thinking, invidiously, that Sam Shepard is just too good-looking to write a powerful story, but then I recall that he's really a very fine playwright, possibly the best in the USA. I first saw True West on stage a good 25 years ago, with Ed Harris playing the lead, and I can't think of any American stage play that has delivered as much punch. None of the stories in "Great Dream of Heaven" have that sort of impact. Shepard is as good an actor as any, and a guy on the right side of a lot of social issues, so I feel presumptuous NOt finding his stories very solid. I have to wonder why he bothers to write them; he plainly doesn't need the trivial income or the plaudits.

It's not that the stories are badly crafted. If anything, they're technically glib. Almost all of them portray moments of failure, epiphanies of emptiness, in the lives of vulnerable losers like the majority of "us". Shepard seems possibly to have been influenced by short-story 'specialist' Raymond Carver; both writers give us a vision of life as a bumpy succession of disappointments heightened by an occasional intense grief. But whereas carver's strength is in his fraternity with his losers, Shepard comes across as "judgmental", willing to exploit his characters for a fashionable well-turned scenario. Hey, maybe he really is just too good-looking to empathize with his own people.

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