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Two Prospectors: The Letters of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark
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Two Prospectors: The Letters of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  125 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Sam Shepard is arguably America's finest working dramatist, as well as an accomplished screenwriter, actor, and director. Winner of a Pulitzer Prize, he has written more than forty-five plays, including True West, Fool for Love, and Buried Child. Shepard has also appeared in more than fifty films, beginning with Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven, and was nominated for an ...more
Hardcover, 399 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by University of Texas Press
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M. Sarki
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
This may be a book only for the person aged enough that memories result in more questions asked than answers given regarding who we truly are. It seems if a person lives long enough there will appear to be several incarnations as one looks back. This book was a treat for me to read and there was so much I found interesting and parallel to my own life (minus the fame and philandering). I loved every moment of engagement with this book. So much so that I have now gone on and ordered all the short ...more
Anthony Bergen
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've never read something by Sam Shepard that hasn't made me feel something powerful. This collection of Shepard's correspondence with Johnny Dark is likely the closest thing to a memoir we'll ever get from America's greatest living playwright. That also makes "2 Prospectors" perhaps his most personal work -- a considerable accomplishment for a writer whose every word is raw and genuine.
Alice Meloy
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Sam Shepard, the playwright, began his relationship with Johnny Dark when he married Dark's step-daughter. Close in age, the two men quickly developed a strong friendship based on their shared interests in writing, the creative process, the spiritual teachings of George Gurdjieff, the writing of Jack Kerouac, and their extended family. Their families lived together for a few years in California before Shepard met Jessica Lange and moved away. (His son, Jesse, stayed in California and was partly ...more
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
About half-way through, and I'm engrossed with the correspondence. Took a break from the book of letters last night to watch the documentary on Shepard and Dark now on Netflix. The book and documentary are as much companions as the lives of these two men. These are must reads/views for anyone who has studied or loves Shepard's work, the beats, or simply the art of lifetime correspondence b/w friends.
James Smith
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book made me want to be a different person.
Deonne Kahler
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Shepard's for a long time - I even taught his plays at Queens - and this look inside his personal/creative life was a revelation. His letters with Dark are at turns nostalgic and intellectual, and always deeply thoughtful.

It especially cheered me to read of Shepard's struggles with his own (brilliant) work - not a surprise, but it's always helpful for the rest of us to know that even accomplished artists experience the same difficulties and doubts. Highly recommended.
Bob Peru
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
huck & tom.
neil & jack.
so too, john dark and sam shepard.
this is an accounting through letters of a more'n 40 year friendship.

so much good stuff here.
Jennifer Bacall
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was everything I had hoped for and more. The way that the letters are curated gives readers an idea of the ebb and flow not only of Dark & Shepard's lives but also of their friendship.

Shepard, perhaps best known to most for his acting career, saw himself primarily as a writer and was known for fleeing intimate relationships.
Dark changed jobs with the wind but remained steadfast in a life-long marriage and he raised Shepard's son Jesse.

The men were related by marriage and ideas
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I have ever read. These letters trace the friendship of Shepard and Dark over a period of 39 years. Though both men led what might be termed unconventional lives, it is the quotidian details of those lives that account for the ultimate beauty of their stories. Everything is here: love, heartbreak, small victories, degrees of success, small and great losses, families, wives, children, work, writing, literature, traveling, driving, moving around, horses, dogs: LIFE. ...more
Aug 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Sam Shepard is tall, good looking and doesn't smile a whole lot. So that makes him fascinating, at least to me. The collection of letters was assembled by Shepard's friend and corespondent (amigo), Johnny Dark. Shepard had a much bigger life than Dark, but, in the end, I found myself feeling sad for Shepard. Pretty interesting to start, then the letters turn mostly to descriptions of what Shepard and Jessica Lange and their kids are doing or the weather, wherever he happens to be. Thanks to this ...more
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm a huge fan of Sam Shepard. Since he never had interest in writing a memoir, this is probably as close as you will get. If you watched & enjoyed "Shepard & Dark" you'll want to read this book, if you haven't already. I've read his work. Watched some of his interviews. There were still some surprises in his letters. I think for Shepard fans, in particular in lieu of his recent death, this book is a must read. For those unfamiliar with Shepard I'm not sure what the draw would be, but I ...more
Elise Stone
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: stopped-reading
I started out with high hopes for this book. I've always liked Sam Shepard and thought this would be one way of getting to know him better. However, about half-way through the letters started getting repetitious, reminiscences of earlier times, longing to recreate them, etc. I might have finished the book had it not been due at the library, but it was and it didn't hold my interest enough to renew it.
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a great collection of letters. Shepard is one of my favorite writers and Johnny seems like truly his only friend in the world for almost 40 years. The timeline of Shepard's life is fun to follow through these letters and the book was beautiful and well put together.
Graham Oliver
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, reviewed
Knew next to nothing about Sam Shepard going into this book. Didn't matter. It's good. Devastatingly honest, almost up until the end. I do wish they had cut it off before the two men knew there was going to be a collection; the last few letters feel stilted and posed.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a woman is there anything better than reading the intimate correspondence between two men? Not since reading Distant Neighbors The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder edited by Chad Wrigglesworth have I enjoyed a book as much. ...more
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Admittedly I'm obsessed with Sam Shepard but great insight into him as well as Johnny Dark - they have a really interesting history.
Kelli Cienkus
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
fantastic! will be reading this one over and over...
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading a collection of letters issued over a period of 40+ years that were exchanged between someone primarily known less as a playwright than an actor to most with an unknown individual is a tall order. Hell, reading a collection of letters between any literary lights can be a challenge because they likely include obscure even mundane stuff of everyday life but this is a contemporary collection worth your time. These letters form the basis for the documentary film Shepard & Dark by ...more
J.A. McNeil
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A stimulating, highly personal, thought-provoking, and fearless reflection of both authors through a correspondence of 40-something years. Sam Shepard and his best friend/ father in law Johnny Dark share letters both fascinating in what they reveal about the tribulations/torments of writing (the why and the hows are just the beginning) and the spiritual meaning often found in capturing stories and characters. Shepard lays himself bare in a severely humble fashion as he ponders what it means to ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arts, memoir, visual, words
What I would give to share a drink with Shepard (RIP) and Dark, and listen to them carry on (and on) about Kerouac, getting stoned, love, disappointment, and the many other things they discuss with grizzled wit and wisdom in these letters.

Some choice quotes:

"I've always set myself up as a great enemy of sentimentality. But now, I see, that time brings a certain yearning toward past experience. That's the thing my old man got lost in. That & the bottle."

"Life compels me now. I must eat! I
Beccie Allen
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
A real insight into Shepards life which is wonderful since he never published his memoirs.

Dark was also a really interesting character in himself.

I loved the book recommendations the men gave each other it gave a real sense of who their influences were.

It feels like a bygone era with people writing letters like these, some mundane day to day experiences and others really deep thoughtful reflections.

The letters span decades and its a wonderful read seeing how the mens lives change and how
Yvette Nachmias-Baeu
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful example of two very different people who have been friends for over 40 years. One a famous playwright and the other a man whose aspirations are solidly placed in his small but astute and focused life. The intimate nature of these letters frame a picture of two very different men leading very different lives...both of which are extraordinary and compelling.
patty ramona
Engrossing and heartbreakingly honest. Peppered with rare photos and screenshots of some handwritten letters and postcards. Shepard had beautiful handwriting.
Al Riske
Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Not surprisingly, this is my least favorite of Shepards books. I was able to finish it, however, an outcome that was in doubt for some time. ...more
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Sam Shepard was 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 was an actor of the stage and motion pictures; a director of stage and film; author of several books of short stories, essays, ...more

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