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True West

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  8,340 ratings  ·  434 reviews
This American classic explores alternatives that might spring from the demented terrain of the California landscape. Sons of a desert dwelling alcoholic and a suburban wanderer clash over a film script. Austin, the achiever, is working on a script he has sold to producer Sal Kimmer when Lee, a demented petty thief, drops in. He pitches his own idea for a movie to Kimmer, w ...more
Paperback, 76 pages
Published March 26th 2010 by Samuel French, Inc. (first published January 1st 1981)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,340 ratings  ·  434 reviews

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Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I like Sam Shepard but I didn’t really care for this. The material was decent but I hated the acting/narration. It’s not really fun to listen to two guys yell at each other for an hour and a half. Disappointing.
Ahmad Sharabiani
True West, Sam Shepard
Act One: True West is about the sibling rivalry between two estranged brothers who have reconnected. The play begins with brothers Austin and Lee sitting in their mother's house. This is the first time they've seen one another in five years. The two are not on good terms, but Austin attempts to appease his older brother, who is more dominant. We learn that their mother is on vacation in Alaska and that Austin is house sitting. Austin is trying to work on his screenplay but
Dave Schaafsma
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
"Go west, young man!"

The frontier! The gold rush! The promise of new life in the American imaginary had always (traditionally) been west, away from urbanity, academia, business. Making a new life! Let's forgot about Native Americans for a minute, that American Dream said, there is endless land and resources and possibilities for progress; and for awhile the fantasy seemed to come true for many.

"And then, by god, I was rich"--Willy's older brother who goes to Alaska to make his fortune, in Death
Sep 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners

Description: Sam Shepard's examination of the relationship and rivalry between two brothers - Austin, a screenwriter, and his older, estranged brother, Lee. Starring the Glenister brothers.

The drama is set in the kitchen of their mother's home, 40 miles east of Los Angeles. Austin is house-sitting while their mother is in Alaska, and is confronted there by his brother, who decides to pay a visit. Lee manages to bully his way into the house and to borrow hi
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
Most creative use of toast. Ever.
Oct 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
What the hell did I just read?
Nov 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Holy crap! This play is NOTHING but character development! Two brothers in a kitchen (and connected alcove) for 9 Scenes, talking, and somehow it's completely engrossing. While satirizing the Western genre, the play raises all kinds of questions about family, independence, rural and urban lifestyles and doesn't try to answer them conclusively, which is refreshing. This is like the anti-"Pericles." In 30-40(?) pages, I felt like I could write a 10 page paper on this play easily. After all 140 pag ...more
Philippe Malzieu
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shepard, a true legend. Actor, author, dramaturge. He was with Patti Smith, Jessica Lange. We discovered his play at the same time we saw "Right stuff". It was a revelation. Shepard attacks with the myth of the cowboy, emblematic of the American culture. This n' is not a demolition. He gives to the cowboy an human dimension. By reading the play, I find the same emotion than when I was at the theatre. ...more
May 05, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible-listens



I can drive a couple towns over to the prison housing, roll down my window, and write down verbatim the screaming arguments drifting over the evening breeze. I'd have something pretty much identical to this book. Life imitating art imitating life taken too far.

I'd rate this book a PG-13 for some violence and swearing.
Mandy White (mandylovestoread)
Well that was a fun drive to wor this morning listening to this.. fun story and Kit Harrington 😍
From realistic family drama to absurd family weirdness, True West is, at least, compelling. Brothers Leo and Austin play out their rivalry over screenwriting, toaster theft and desert living -- three unforgiving pursuits -- while trying to one up each other, kill each other and (maybe?) love each other for two fascinating acts.

It has the makings of a fun performance, but it reveals one of the sadnesses of reading theatre before seeing it staged because it lies dead on the page and there is no o
Andrew “The Weirdling” Glos
I've heard Shepard's plays celebrated for as long as I have been aware of theater and playwrites. I have never read one until now. It is hard to shake the impression that this was just page after page of two brothers yelling at each other. It gets tiresome after a while, that in spite of the fact that this is a short play.

It seems to me like it is almost certainly a retelling of the biblical Cain and Abel story. Two brothers of wildly different temperaments find themselves in their mother's hom
TRUE WEST is all about the characters and nothing else. I loved listening!

It was short, it was uncomplicated, and a lot of family background was revealed in what essentially turns out to be several scenes of two brothers arguing.

Thanks to Audible Audio for the free "Original."

Read 10.12.19-10.14.19
Alex O'Connor
May 08, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very bad
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairly entertaining Audible Original.
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Drama:
Sam Shepard's examination of the relationship and rivalry between two brothers - Austin, a screenwriter, and his older, estranged brother, Lee. Starring the Glenister brothers.

The drama is set in the kitchen of their mother's home, 40 miles east of Los Angeles. Austin is house-sitting while their mother is in Alaska, and is confronted there by his brother, who decides to pay a visit. Lee manages to bully his way into the house and to borrow his brother's car. The screenp
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Why does the Pulitzer Committee like Sam Shepard so much?

This is the third play of his that I’ve read, and I didn’t much enjoy any of them. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe his plays are genius, and I’m simply too much of a rube to appreciate them.

As for True West, the tale of two brothers, I started out liking it. Yes, it was yet another dysfunctional family drama, but the promise of an examination of the relationship between siblings, of how siblings can grow up in the same house and end up
...interesting. Kind of. I know you shouldn't just read plays, so maybe this would make more sense if I saw it. Kinda depressing, but that's just what you should expect from a lot of classics. This was my final read for my Honors American Lit class, and it wasn't too bad. But I didn't really like it. ...more
❤Marie Gentilcore
Aug 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, audiobook
This short novella was horrible. I listened to the audio and I think it was supposed to be funny but I did not get the humor at all.
Mar 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Notes on Sound

"The Coyote of Southern California has a distinct yapping, dog-like bark, similar to a Hyena. This yapping grows more intense and maniacal as the pack grows in numbers, which is usually the case when they lure, and kill pets from suburban yards. The sense of growing frenzy in the pack should be felt in the background, particularly in scenes 7 and 8. In any case, these Coyotes never make the long, mournful. solitary howl of the Hollywood stereotype.
The sound of Crickets can speak f
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Raw, brutal, intense - no warm fuzzies here. I really want to see/experience this play in the flesh though- there are several scene that just itch for live performance... at the very least I want to see the line-up of toasters. And the final scenes are visceral in their intensity. I think I have to take a shower now.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-west, plays
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ron Versetto
This was an audible original and I was interested by it mostly because it was written by Sam Sheppard. The format of a play being acted out took some getting used to and the performances seemed a bit over the top at times.

I didn't really understand the point or journey of the two main characters nor did much of anything seem to really occur. Again, the voice acting at time was enjoyable, but I can't really say anything more positive than that. The ending was also, well....just silly.

I'm sad to
Wesley Crump
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: everything-else
I listened to the audible version starring Kit Harington & Johnny Flynn and it was a solid listen. It is the story of two brothers that are exact opposites yet are drawn together through their shared upbringing. It shows sibling rivalry and camaraderie, jealousy and love, and ultimately life and death.

There have been several adaptations of this famous play including a pbs film starring Malkovich & Sinise. The play recently reopened starring Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano. Definitely worth an hour or
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
Always feels a little weird when it takes someone dying for me to finally check out their work, but this was sublime. RIP, Mr. Shepard.
Ben Hallman
Moe: "It's 'Po-Mo!'"
[Homer, Barney, Lenny and Carl stare at him blankly.]
Moe: "Post-Modern?"
[They continue to stare blankly.]
Moe: "Yeah, all right. 'Weird for the sake of weird.'"
Homer, Barney, Lenny and Carl: "Ohh!"

So with True West, I was introduced to the concept of Postmodernism. Not that this play is the first piece of postmodern literature I've ever read, but it is the first postmodern work I've read that I knew was considered postmodern while I was reading it. Which means absolutely
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, aty2018
I'm still trying to let this beautiful play settle in my mind, but one of my resolutions this year is to immediately review everything I read. SO! Here are my initial, somewhat (very) rambling thoughts (trying to keep this vague enough that I don't have to cut it for spoilers):

1. Toast. I may never look at toast the same way.
2. Brothers/family. The play's treatment of the brothers' relationship was raw and intense. Their somewhat-but-not-quite Cain and Abel rapport was handled in a visceral and
David Brimer
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love it when playwrights toy with convention. Sam Shepard is certainly one of them. I first read "Fool For Love" several years ago and was impressed by his voice and style. "True West" is very similar in tone, though not in execution or story. It starts like a typical brothers who don't see eye-to-eye story and ends with that convention flipped on its head. Though I believe the outcome to be highly unbelievable, it didn't hamper my enjoyment of the story. I see Shepard occupying the same south ...more
Paul LaFontaine
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Two brothers, one whose life is fairly together and the other, older, who is a drifter and thief. The older brother intrudes on the screenwriting career aspirations of the younger and both spiral out of control.

It is a depressing view of sibling drama though well written. The characters were mildly interesting and I give Sam Shepard credit for the structure and delivery.

Cannot recommend
Apr 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theatre
An absolutely wonderful play- my introduction to Shepard. Led me to Beckett and Brecht, and was a perfectly "me" story. Humans are liars, and we never really get anywhere. Shepard understands my sensibilities. ...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, a ...more

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