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Buried Child

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,235 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
A newly revised edition of an American classic, Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize winning Buried Child is as fierce and unforgettable as it was when it was first produced more than twenty-five years ago.

A scene of madness greets Vince and his girlfriend as they arrive at the squalid farmhouse of Vince's hard-drinking grandparents, who seem to have no idea who he is. Nor does hi
Paperback, 120 pages
Published February 14th 2006 by Vintage (first published 1979)
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Hamlet by William ShakespeareMacbeth by William ShakespeareThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeRomeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareWaiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Best Plays Ever
91st out of 659 books — 837 voters
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee WilliamsDeath of a Salesman by Arthur MillerThe Crucible by Arthur MillerThe Glass Menagerie by Tennessee WilliamsWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
Best American Plays
34th out of 196 books — 289 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Maryam Hosseini
Apr 20, 2015 Maryam Hosseini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
.موضوع نمایشنامه راجع به زندگی آمریکایی و یک خانواده از هم پاشیده س
و نویسنده خیلی خوب فضای این خانواده و مشکلاتشون و سردرگمی شخصیت ها رو ترسیم کرده
Reader: "Book? Hey, book?"

Book: *dozing on the couch* *waking up* "Huh? Who are you? Why are you in my house?"

Reader: "YOUR house? Book, you are in my house."

Book: "Who are you? What're ya doing here?"

Reader: "Oh, stop fooling around already."

Book: "You're the one who's fooling. Where are ya from?"

Reader: "Hamburg, as you well know."

Book: "Dumb country."

Reader: "It's a city..."

Book: "Even dumber."

Reader: "Book, where's your bookmark?"

Book: "Bookmark? What bookmark? What's it to you?"

Reader: "I'm
Dec 15, 2015 J.M. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Illinoisians
Shelves: drama, borrowed
December of Drama 2015, day fifteen

"The other night we went to see Sam's play,
(Doin' the things that we want to)
It was very physical. It held you to the stage.
(Doin' the things that he wants to)
--Doin' the Things that We Want to, by Lou Reed

Alright, so maybe I will start using relevant lyrics to open my reviews. I'm pretty sure that song is referring to a different Sam Shepard play but it nevertheless applies to this one. You just can't look away. Buried Child is poetic and surprising, brutal a
Jul 26, 2008 Beth rated it really liked it
I have to say- this play is MESSED up. This play shows the destruction of a family from the inside out, and I was relieved when I finished it, not because it was bad, but because I couldn't wait to get out of these characters' minds.
Gregory Knapp
Dec 30, 2015 Gregory Knapp rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
Sam Shepard will have to slug it out with Lanford Wilson for Best American Playwright of the last quarter of the 20th Century.

Whatever the outcome Shepard is in contention for his startling ability to delineate the various degrees of obscene psychic cruelty that family members are capable of inflicting on one another, and to put this on the stage in a way that's not only palpable, but riveting, and even comic -- without ever diminishing our comprehension of the horrors being perpetrated.

I have n
Aug 24, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing
I have read this play about seven or eight times. I used this play for my final script analysis project in college and kept finding more and more bizarre qualities hidden in the text each time I read it. I am a huge fan of dark plays with twisted characters.
Feb 12, 2014 Violet rated it it was amazing
Oh, the glory that is Post-Modernism. This book was one of may books read in my continuing journey as an English Literature major. I think this play was a dark, riveting tale that used ambiguous character development, limited setting and stage perception, and a non-traditional plot to show-case what happens to a typical American family when they don't focus on what really matters in life: the people we love, the things money can't buy, and the things that we often cannot grasp, but are real all ...more
This is some scary, crazy, awesome sh*t.
Jan 24, 2011 Tabitha rated it it was ok
I have heard (and feel like I will continue to hear) great things about this play. Too me it was unrelentingly heavy and dark. There didn't seem to be a speck of joy to thin out all the secrecy and tragedy behind the central family. Reading the play was so thick I wasn't even really sure what the hell was going on by the end of it. Seeing the play later on in the same month failed to clear much up. It was really only years later after having the opportunity to forget a lot of the extra crap that ...more
Jan 10, 2012 Teemu rated it it was ok
Didn't really like it. It started just fine but then deconstructed into an absurdist mess which I don't care that much about, not in Beckett and evidently not in Shepard either. Buried Child is more about the form than about what it's trying to say - although I'm not sure if it tries to say nothing at all.

That's the problem with expressionism and absurdism: the art piece in itself is the center of everything and in Buried Child's case, the mystery and illogicality of it all takes the attension
Nicholas Montemarano
Mar 22, 2011 Nicholas Montemarano rated it it was ok
Strange reading experience.

By the end of Act One I was really into this play and impressed with Shepard's writing (I'd never read one of his plays or stories). Guy shows up at his childhood farm home with his girlfriend only to discover that his family doesn't recognize him. OK, I'm with you. The grandfather, clearly very old and ill, is sneaking drinks on the couch. Lots of tension.

But the play -- which won the Pulitzer, go figure -- just becomes stranger and stranger with no payoff, in my mind
Jul 18, 2016 Philipp rated it liked it
Shelves: america, play
Ever came home after a few years, get that unsettling feeling that maybe, just maybe, you've walked into someone else's purgatory, where people are full of hate and mean drunks and being eaten alive by old secrets, and think: "well let's see if there's corn outside"?
Niloo Beygi
پرده ی اخر رو به علت هیجانی که توش داشت بیشتر پسندیدم و پرده ی اول به نظرم خیلی حالت معرفی شخصیت و این ها داشت و فقط آخرش اون بحران مورد نظر رو ایجاد می کنه بنابراین صفحات اولیه اش به نظرم اضافه بود چون می تونست این ویژگی شخصیت ها رو بعدا هم بیان کنه.
Sadegh Maleki
Jun 08, 2016 Sadegh Maleki rated it really liked it
Hyper-Reality and Fragmentation of Identity: An application of Baudrillard’s theories to The Buried Child

We live in a world which signs no longer refer to something, but to themselves. Therefore, the world of signs replace reality because signs are more real that the reality itself. This is what Baudrillard calls hyper-reality. In addition, Baudrillard in his The Illusion of the End argues about the disappearance of the past. Such a thing is possible as a result of lifelessness of real events du
Charles Houser
Mar 15, 2014 Charles Houser rated it it was amazing
Just saw a production of this play at SUNY New Paltz, which seemed to be faithful to Shepard's revised version. I must say there's much in this play to disturb. It seems to hover somewhere between hyper-realism and a kind of mythic/archetypal dimension (though what anyone or anything represents is never made clear, which adds to the overall feeling of disturbance). Each member of this highly dysfunctional family seems to have their own unique manifestation of PTSD, none wins our trust or affecti ...more
Jun 19, 2014 Jake added it
It's like Everybody Loves Raymond if there was a long lost third brother who's never been mentioned before, and he's just dropped in unexpectedly!
Patrick Neylan
May 26, 2015 Patrick Neylan rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays, american
True, I'm only 2/3 of the way through, but this is one of the most ridiculous plays I have ever read. Y'see, drama is about people, and I don't care how vibrantly aggressive Shepard's writing is, and his dialogue is great, none of his characters are even vaguely real. These people - fathers, sons, grandsons - don't even recognise each other. It's nonsense. The whole play depends on the utterly absurd notions that none of these people know who each other are and aren't even bothered about the fac ...more
Jun 01, 2016 Mirish rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-drama
dramda məkan iç və dış olaraq bölünüb. dış əsər boyu sadəcə adı keçən arxa bağçadı. arxa bağ da torpağın üstü və altı olmaqla iki yerə bölünüb. torpağın altında Dodge(ata) tərəfindən öldürülən (oğlu Tilden ilə arvadının uşağı) körpə yatır. shepard çox əjdaha şəkildə məkan və zaman ikiləməsi yaradıb. evin hər bir sakini öz məkanında yaşayır və ordan kənarlaşmır (hətta söhbət edərkən də). Tildenin məkanı bağçadı(torpağın üstü). Tilden bütün gün bağçadan evə tərəvəzlər daşıyır, baxmayaraq ki, ailən ...more
Steve Scott
It started out strong but ended in a strange and confusing way. The description on the back cover says that the VERY dysfunctional family somehow has a slim possibility of a new beginning at the end…I didn't see it. If anything, it struck me that one estranged member was going to be sucked back into the dynamic and continue on the pattern of abuse that the family had come to know.

Wikipedia has a great write-up on the play that sheds some light on it. I recommend reading the play and then referen
Jennifer Haight
Dec 02, 2013 Jennifer Haight rated it really liked it
Painfully beautiful, beautifully realistic, realistically awkward, Shepard writes regular American family life like it's a surrealistic painting. With classic symbolism, this dysfunctional family passes from one generation to the next in a few strange moments.
Peter Orvetti
Oct 25, 2015 Peter Orvetti rated it really liked it
Shepard is a master at taking stark, gritty settings and characters and injecting them into a surreal world. In "Buried Child", a young man who has not seen his family in years arrives at his grandfather's home -- a place he remembers as a haven of Norman Rockwell-seque Americana -- to find the old man drunk and decrepit, and his own father baffled and barely coherent.

Though characters do enter and exit, the play all takes place in one room, and each character is drawn back to it even if trying
Sep 28, 2015 Victoria rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-wishlist, plays
the rating is a lie but im sure i'll like it once i process what the hell happened and take it in
Isadora Wagner
Jan 11, 2015 Isadora Wagner rated it really liked it
Shelves: orals-list, drama
Strange strange strange. But I liked it.
Daniel Andrews
Oct 24, 2014 Daniel Andrews rated it really liked it
Shameless meets Field of Dreams

"Yup. That sounds about right."

In Buried Child, Sam Shepard places the dysfunctional family in agrarian America. Secrets are revealed, denied, repressed by various family members when Vince, stops by his grandparents house with his girlfriend on the way to visit his parents across the country. Upon arrival Vince realizes that six years without contact can put a serious toll on one's familial relations and his father is residing at Vince's grandparents farm.

Apr 03, 2013 Nikol rated it liked it
Shelves: american, drama
Sam Shepard’s Buried Child sets off quietly, making a deliberately false first impression, just to strike the reader in the second act over the face, saying: “Do you see? And what exactly do you see?”. The plain and sullen conversation between Dodge and Halie makes the reader anticipate we are about to see some kind of a typical family drama – a grumpy husband, a bossy wife and, possibly, some skeleton in a closet – but as soon as Tilden steps on the stage, this notion is re-shaped into somethin ...more
For the first time in my life I laughed out loud while reading a play. BURIED CHILD surprises with humor even as it plumbs the depths of human despair. It explores the morose state of a family falling apart and exposes their underbelly of pain to harsh scrutiny when a young family member returns to his childhood home to reconnect.
May 04, 2008 Saxon rated it liked it
Shelves: school
So, this might be a four star. I give it three stars because it seems that Shepard is just following in the footsteps of his predecessors such as Eugene O'Neil and Tennessee Williams in regards to the plot and theme of this play. In addition, I don't think he is necessary adding anything that those previous playwrights didn't already cover.

Sure, its updated to take place in the 70's(although nothing directly indicates that) and it is a bit darker and arguably more comedic, however much of this
Melody Walker
Mar 29, 2016 Melody Walker rated it really liked it
This play challenges American myths about family and heads of religion. It sparks conversation (and possibly debate). This was such a great read but also overwhelming and disturbing. I had to finish it in one night because it isn't the sort of read that I could let linger for days.
Jim Krotzman
Dec 22, 2014 Jim Krotzman rated it liked it
Buried Child is a good play by Sam Shepard. It is post-modern drama that comments on the American dream and how it has been perverted. This a story of adultery, murder, alcoholism, estrangement, and incest The play seems almost dream-like as though the characters are not real.
Jeremy Laroche
Oct 28, 2015 Jeremy Laroche rated it really liked it
This play did not grab me from the beginning, but after the first scene, it becomes clear that Buried Child is not a depressing, mundane play about the stagnant lives of the elderly, but instead, a psychological thriller. A masterfully suspenseful one at that.
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Sam Shepard is an American artist who worked as an award-winning playwright, writer and actor. His many written works are known for being frank and often absurd, as well as for having an authentic sense of the style and sensibility of the gritty modern American west. He is an actor of the stage and motion pictures; a director of stage and film; author of several books of short stories, essays, and ...more
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