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Cruising Paradise

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  538 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, actor, ex-cowboy, and musician Sam Shepard now stands revealed as a storyteller of dazzling artistry. Bleak and wildly funny, touching but stringently unsentimental, these stories give readers a most intimate view of the writer who has become synonymous with the recklessness, stoicism, and solitude of American manhood.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 24th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1996)
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Jul 06, 2014 Bert rated it really liked it
Sam Shepard's short stories and fragments are all American and all Man, these are tales of motel rooms, bars, the desert, they're kind of ragged and dignified, a little mysterious, they tend to start and end in what sometimes feels like the middle somewhere, but then doesn't life have that same sense of being in the middle somewhere? Shepard focuses on these junctures, vivid childhood memories that seem to hold some ungraspable significance, lots of driving, some tequila and horse riding, so kin ...more
Jul 17, 2009 Lisa rated it liked it
If you like stories with lots of hotels, motels and long-distance driving, this is the book for you.
Sep 20, 2009 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: western, contemporary
This is a wonderful collection of hard-edged stories of the modern west by the playwright/actor Sam Shepard. I went back to it because of his recently published story in "The New Yorker" (Sept. 2009), which is in itself a great little tale of subrbanites on vacation in Mexico. The prose here is fantastic, giving a real gut feeling of individuals reflected by their expansive, awesome and desolate environment.
Dec 06, 2010 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
I loved these stories. There's a nice balance between short, fragmented sketches and traditionally-constructed stories you have the urge to read aloud. Being a poet myself, I must admit first-off I like fragmented stories--so there you have it. But what elevates these stories to a 5-star rating for me is not the structure (or lack of structure) in the pieces, but the clear and concise voice and style, the way Shepard has of tilting the head, that weaves itself through these pieces. It's the writ ...more
Sep 30, 2007 Ann rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the west
saw/heard sam shepard read many of these stories in a staged reading at the geffen. he was so brilliant. looked like he was going to jump out of his skin - it was l.a., and the level of pretentious idiocy was predictibably high. he stood in front of us, and sucked a sip of water and began to read from a series of papers stapled together. one would think an actor would relish in the chance to perform his work...but he really appeared to be in physical misery. but as sam read the stories, his work ...more
Dec 28, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
There's something for everyone from this Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and actor -- short stories, nonfiction, and play script. Shepard has a fine ear for dialogue and keen eyes for observation as well a wry sense of humor. I enjoyed the latter part of the book as he makes his way from California to Mexico to shoot a movie.
Feb 02, 2008 Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
This book is really good. If you want to read it, read it. I wish I could give it 3.5 stars. The best story is this one about this actor, it's called Winging It. It's awesome. It's funny and sort of postmodern in a way. God I wish I could give this book 3.5 stars. I can't though.
Apr 18, 2015 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
Ο Σαμ Σέπαρντ εκτός από πολύ καλός ηθοποιός είναι και συγγραφέας δεκάδων θεατρικών έργων, σεναρίων και διηγημάτων. Η συλλογή που μόλις τελείωσα αποτελείται από σαράντα μικρά διηγήματα, τα οποία ασχολούνται με την μοναξιά, την απομόνωση, την απώλεια και άλλα συναφή ανθρώπινα θέματα, με φόντο κυρίως την Αμερικάνικη ερημιά και τα σύνορα με το Μεξικό. Βλέπουμε στιγμές ανθρώπων που είτε οδηγούν στους ατελείωτους, μοναχικούς αυτοκινητόδρομους, είτε ξεκουράζονται σε κάποιο μοτέλ στου διαόλου την μάνα, ...more
Apr 05, 2008 Steven rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-stories
This was a big disappointment. Most of it seems like polished up writing exercises—character sketches and descriptions of settings—hardly anything that fits into the category of a story, let alone as a “tale.” The prose is clean, but not memorable. There are some interesting characters and situations, but nothing forms itself into a memorable combination. No real insights into the characters either. There are also pages and pages of sample dialog, as if he just made two characters talk back and ...more
Aug 08, 2011 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me short story collections can be a bit hit and miss, even from writers whose novels I love. I expected the same from Sam Shepard’s collection, particularly since this is more of a collection of sketches, conversations, vignettes and occasional full blown ‘short stories’. Yet surprisingly the hit rate was pretty consistent. Stories such as ‘A Small Circle of Friends’, ‘The Package Man’ and ‘Dust’ are amongst some of the best I’ve read, though most left some resonance. Towards the end of the ...more
Apr 10, 2010 Dan rated it liked it
Accidental pick-up; the wife took it out of the library, I just picked it up and started reading it at bedtime. Short sketches, stories. Vivid writing. Not as spare as I presumed.

--in the end, I liked the first half best with its painful stories and sketches of that peculiar malady, American loneliness.
I admit to being distracted by his recollections of filming in Mexico--I realized he was making this film version of "Homo Faber"--I had decided to get the book because I kept missing the movie.
Nathan Grant
May 17, 2011 Nathan Grant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was fantastic. Such wonderful writing. Even if I didn't particularly care about what was happening in a short story, I still enjoyed reading it. These are very short stories with a chunk of them woven together about a film actor. Honestly, there's a very blurred line here between truth and fiction. I have no idea if all the stories are fiction or if any are autobiographical. I like to think the later, but it's hard to tell. Nevertheless, it's a great read.
David Gallin-Parisi
Oct 25, 2013 David Gallin-Parisi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: halfway
Phenomenal and quick shorts. Recommended for people that like down and out scenes, and short stories to read on the radio. Had I found this when it first came out, many of these stories would've been read out loud on a radio show. Evocative, lonely, romantic, warm, and wind swept writing. Recommended for people that used to read those two-minute mysteries and for people who like reading writers writing.
Danny Campbell
Aug 25, 2013 Danny Campbell rated it liked it
I have always loved Sam Shepard's plays. Just as gritty and real, his short stories give us a slice of life of individuals found in our every day walks of life. Almost all written in 1st person, his stories put is there in the mindset of the characters whether it is a simple actor trying to find his motivation to a vagabond on an unmarked country road. Ive always loved his style, and now I cant wait to read more of his non theatrical work :)
Feb 21, 2011 Judson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not unlike True West, my favorite play ever, if broken into Donald Barthelme-sized bits, and placed on Cormac McCarthy's map and cleared of all the latter author's terrible mythic violence and instead concerned more with what True West already shows Shepard to be concerned about most: American Southwestern destitution; drunken loneliness/lonely drunkeness; lost fathers and being lost; vehicular travel with horses involved and horse travel with vehicles involved; acting and moviemaking.
Ben Fowlkes
Apr 04, 2007 Ben Fowlkes rated it liked it
Sam Shepard's stories make it clear that he is a very talented dramatic writer. He's never going to be considered a literary fiction heavyweight, but the guy has got something worth checking out.

Sure, his plays are better and many of his stories are just one act plays masquerading as fiction, but they're still great.
Nov 05, 2008 Everthere rated it liked it
There are gems in here for sure, stories that find perfect balance between minimalism and poignancy. There is also the seed of a novel or novella in here. Interesting as it is to feel the seeds between your fingers, it's a pity we can't read it in full bloom.
The eminent Sam Shepard does a novel thing in giving his stories a date and point of origin. "Nuevo Mondo" was born on July 13, 1994, in Del Rio, Texas. "Wild to the Wild" happened on May 2, 1989 in Scottsvile, Virginia.
Sep 08, 2012 Bayneeta rated it really liked it
Short stories, vignettes, and dialogues. Many are surely autobiographical. Most are unrelated except for the last 75 pages or so which deal with making a movie in Mexico and the actor's refusal to fly to the location.
Jan 07, 2017 Mike rated it really liked it
This was pretty fantastic. Shepard is my favorite playwright and he succeeds in his fiction, I hope he continues to do more of it. I didn't as much care for the diary entries but overall superb storytelling.
Vincent Eaton
May 27, 2011 Vincent Eaton rated it it was amazing
Some gems herein. "Motel Chronicles" still his best in his short prose pieces collections, pound for pound, but this comes a pretty close 2nd. The last fourth about shooting a movie as a star gets the stars.
Jun 13, 2007 Ali rated it liked it
سام شپرد شاید یکی از بهترین نمایش نامه نویسان امروز آمریکاست که با زبانی شعرگونه و سرشار از طنز، با شخصیت هایی غریب اما واقعی، به مسایل ساده و در عین حال تراژیک جامعه ی آمریکا می پردازد. خواندن شپارد، آرامش می دهد.
Jun 11, 2012 Jim rated it liked it
When Sam Shepard was writing his fever dream plays, I was fortunate to be at an age to be seeing great productions of them one after another in Chicago.

So I was expecting more that Cruising Paradise delivers.

There are some excellent pieces in this collection, but overall the book is uneven.
Jul 07, 2011 Gnomanix rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rubbish
Eines der schlechtesten Bücher, die ich je gelesen habe.
Einzig die Geschichten um die Aufnahmen zu Homo Faber mit Schlöndorff waren erträglich, aber auch nur, weil ich den Film kannte!
Absolute Verschwendung von Lese- und Lebenszeit!
Abigail (Abbe)
Jun 23, 2010 Abigail (Abbe) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stories I really loved:
Wild to the Wild
A Small Circle of Friends (gut wrenching)
More Urgent Emergencies
Thin Skin (gripping)
Sep 12, 2008 Bradley rated it it was amazing

Even the shortest pieces resonate like songs, and I've always been awed by Shepard's lapidary prose. Great stuff.
Oct 06, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing
Such a prolific writer and a Renaissance man.
Chris Lewert
Feb 07, 2008 Chris Lewert rated it really liked it
a collection of short stories. this is the only book i carry with me everywhere i go. i have read it a dozen times and suggest everyone else do the same. a very good comfort book in my opinion.
Zuzana Kucharová
Apr 30, 2013 Zuzana Kucharová rated it liked it
Half-read, 3/4 liked, 100% American man
Apr 13, 2009 Jason rated it really liked it
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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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“I had a definite sense of somehow being a passenger in an evil vehicle crusing through Paradise.” 19 likes
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