November 01, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

Great Dream of Heaven

Current Status
In Season
Sam Shepard
Short Stories, Fiction
We gave it a B

Shepard’s characters don’t much like talking; when goaded, they get testy, even dangerous. And yet, after a lifetime of compulsive up-and-leaving, they are all dying to spill their guts — as is Shepard (the Pulitzer-winning playwright of True West and Fool for Love). But his best efforts are his most laconic in this, his second collection of stories, some of which are simply haunting, inchoate tableaux, while the touching ”It Wasn’t Proust” is essentially a screenplay. When it resists self-explication and lets the lonely silences breathe, Shepard’s prose recalls a smokier Raymond Carver — and where he’s calling from is a motel on the highway headed out of town.

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