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Cruising Paradise

Posted on

Cruising Paradise

Current Status:
In Season
Sam Shepard

We gave it an A-

Sam Shepard was a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (Buried Child) long before he became a Hollywood heartthrob (The Right Stuff) and sometime director (Far North). 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. The jewel of this collection is the title story, in which a boy conducts an ad hoc purgation ritual by setting fire to the ”death mattress” on which his alcoholic father was immolated. Shepard’s pieces of pure dialogue are hit-or-miss affairs, and some of his slice-of-life meanderings are merely evocative, if always dexterously rendered. But his more developed stories are vividly compelling and often funny, delineating rugged landscapes peopled by loners, cowpunks — and even a few movie stars. A-