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Day Out of Days

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  372 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
From one of our most admired writers: a collection of stories set mainly in the fertile imaginative landscape of the American West, written with the terse lyricism, cinematic detail, and wry humor that have become Sam Shepard’s trademarks.

A man traveling down Highway 90 West gets trapped alone overnight inside a Cracker Barrel restaurant, where he is tormented by an endles
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 12th 2010 by Knopf (first published December 15th 2009)
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M. Sarki
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it

It is unlikely that the evolution of Sam Shepard as an accomplished writer of short fiction comes as any great surprise to those of us who read him. Each book throughout the course of his life ages right along beside him. By 2010 his voice has become wizened and mature, and with it he acknowledges his own frailties as a human being in his attempts at getting along in the world and with others. His personal relationships, though long, are somewhat disruptiv
Jan 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Lately I find myself baffled by the hyperbolic responses of my female friends and relations to the book (now Julia Roberts vehicle) Eat, Pray, Love. However, after hearing some of their descriptions of said narrative, I get the sense that the comforting notion of finding some vestige of spirituality in this earthly realm is comparable to the feeling I get from reading Sam Shepard. In my case, substitute "West Texas" for "Bali" and "driving a Chevrolet Impala through the Chihuahua Desert" for "ea ...more
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
As an actor, artist and writer trying to combine all of my influences into my first novel, it has become increasingly evident that I actually want to write a series of short stories that echo and tease the structure of a novel, a set, a stage, and life experience. This is why I love Sam Shepard's short stories so much. He plays the games in writing, experience and wonder with which I identify. In my 20's, when I began writing, it was with the influence of reading Motel Chronicles and Cruising Pa ...more
Tim Lepczyk
Day Out of Days by Sam Shephard is unlike most short story collections I've read.  It's a place of voice.  Set mainly along the rural highways of the Midwest, Great Plains, and Western states, the stories speak from and of people who have watched their towns decay, given up on their dreams and settled in for the slow passing of time.  Voices fill the pages.  Voices enter the readers head.  At times, these voices run together, loose their form and are lost in a cacophony of sound.  Still, there a ...more
R.G. Evans
May 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I remember when I first read Hemingway's In Our Time , the little click I felt at the end when I realized that Hemingway's stories and vignettes had the same unifying integrity that his novels had, how threads of connectivity run throughout that book.

I remember finishing Cormac McArthy's Blood Meridian , and feeling as if I had just been gut-punched by an ultra-violent opera, an American west teeming with Valkyrie--with teeth.

I also remember one Christmas night when I read Beckett's Waiting fo
Owain Lewis
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Loved this one a lot. At first glance I was a little disappointed to find that the collection was made up of lots of quite short pieces - the longest one is about five or six pages but generally they don't go on for more than three with the majority not even filling a page - but it's telling that the subtitle of the book is 'stories' rather than 'short stories'. Instead of lots of separate stories what you get here is a collection of narratives from the strange - the story of a talking severed h ...more
Simone Subliminalpop
Normalmente questo tipo di libro non incontra i miei gusti di lettore: tantissimi pezzi (133), alcuni brevissimi altri più lunghi, e molto vari (dialoghi, racconti, poesie, abbozzi). Alla fine però in “Diario di lavorazione” di Sam Shepard, tra alti e bassi, il senso di unità si percepisce chiaro e forte. C’è l’America, del passato e del presente, soprattutto quella parte a sud-ovest che a volte finisce per confondersi o sconfinare direttamente nel vicino Messico, e c’è tanto movimento, su e giù ...more
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Finished it on the stroke of midnight. Long time, if ever,
since I stayed awake effortlessly/compulsively with a book,
to take it all in. The audacity of it!
Tom Romig
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I happened to be reading this collection of stories when I got the news that Sam Shepard had died. Without really thinking about it, I'd assumed he's always be there, always be writing and acting. The stories in this collection (and in his recent New Yorker [Dec 6, 2016] story "Tiny Man") are classic Shepard: enigmatic, compelling stories of men struggling for purchase, of lives lost, of opportunities ungrasped.

My daughter Margaret--also enamored of Shepard--and I were fortunate to see an excel
J.W.D. Nicolello
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Years ago I was sitting in the kitchen of my old manic kitchen at the postcardesque window of a house somewhere along the lines of halfway house meeting victorian watching the distant trains rush past through the misty midnight to west portal. We were listening to Motown and having a party when my morose roommate came into the kitchen for a glass of water and said something to the effect of, "Right, of course you are all having a good time drinking and smoking and dancing and listening to Motown ...more
Feb 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
I felt a sense of guilt as I started reading this collection of short stories by Sam Shepard. It seemed as if I was reading someone’s journal, their diary, with all their personal ramblings being exposed to me, a stranger. I got over that, and went on to really enjoy this collection that contains very short stories, snippets of conversations, memories, poems, observations, and random musings. Shepard writes in the voice of a distant loner, hardened by truth and reality but still seeking, looking ...more
Arwen Miller
Nov 29, 2012 rated it liked it
The friend who gave me this book gave it one star and described it as a cheap non-"The Road" Cormac MCarthy knockoff. As I haven't read anything by McCarthy besides "The Road", I can't comment. I'm far more familiar with Shepard as a dramatist than a book author, and his dramatic ear for distillation and essence of dialogue is strongly present here. He covers familiar territory: petty criminals, fucked-up relationships, and the mythos of the Old West. Themes of aging and death, the mind-body rel ...more
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Well now: This was one of the more unusual, fascinating, interesting reading experiences I have had in a while. Ostensibly, this is a collection of short stories. Some are very short, one or two sentences. There are some poems. Some of the stories recur here and there throughout the book. This is one of those instances where the reading experience is all that matters; trying to attach a "meaning" or "theme" to these pieces is simply not important. These pieces of course do have meaning, there is ...more
In extrem kurzen Kapiteln folgt der Erzähler seinen Figuren entlang verschiedener legendärer amerikanischer Highways. Das On-the-Road-sein bezieht sich u. a. auf Kerouac und spiegelt sich in aneinandergereihten Erlebnissen in Motels, Diners und Cafés. Manche Figur vollzieht eine Reise in die eigene Vergangenheit, zur nationalen Traumatisierung durch den Vietnamkrieg oder bis in Familiengeschichten aus der Zeit der Eroberung des Wilden Westens. Charakteristische Gerüche und Klänge lassen die Weit ...more
Mar 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Sam Shepard is probably much better known as an actor, but he is also a Pulitzer prize winning playwright and author. This book claims it is "stories," but it is actually a mix of stories, vignettes, and poems, many of them shorter than one page, many of them interconnected, though. As a result, it's the kind of book you pick up and put down a lot.

There is a lot of despair in these pieces. They are set along long stretches of highway or in abandoned or dying towns (several pieces are just named
Donald Armfield
May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Following a trip through imaginative landscapes across rural highways, hotels and many other stops. Sam Shepard gives short stories and flash fiction of many different people living life or doing whatever.

Starts out with a man carrying a severed head in a basket. A talking severed head by the way. And ends with the man throwing it into a rapid river. Not sure how all stories tie together at the end, but I guess it does. a few of my favorites listed below.


-Brain Fever (a nice way to call s
Ayne Ray
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Billed as a short story collection, this book also includes brief vignettes (often only one paragraph), snippets of dialog, lyrics, and poems. Shepard again explores the well-traversed mythology of the American West and lonely stretches of both highway and soul he is well known for, delving into the psyche of his characters and exploring their sense (or lack) of belonging. My favorite pieces are those that weave together to tell a single tale of a man who finds and strikes up a conversation with ...more
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. There were quite a few of memorable moments contained in the short stories. One story taking place in a poor town with depressed people ended with the characters standing on the sidewalk, listening to a woman playing the piano in the nearby house. When she finished they said "thank you" and without ever seeing her they responded "thank you." Such a nice touch. Just the unexpected pleasure of hearing beautiful music when it's least expected. It adds unexpected pleasures to a ...more
Jun 10, 2011 rated it liked it
This is exactly the kind of collection that one would hope to stumble across while rummaging through Sam Shepard's cupboards. There would be a kind of voyeuristic magic in that scenario. Unfortunately, the brevity of this otherwise engaging melange of miscellany renders the suggested retail price a bit excessive. An enterprising reader can get through the whole book in a single day; there's a lot of blank space on the pages. In this sense, it has more in common with a book of short poems... exce ...more
Regan Sharp
The subtitle of this book is "Stories." I do not think that is a fair description of what this book contains. A few pieces classify as stories, but most of the writing feels more like sketches from an author's journal. There are a few poems scattered throughout and I suppose some of the "stories" (which are often less than a page or merely a paragraph long) could be considered prose poems. There is a connecting theme of aging men making bad decisions and living with regret, and the book almost w ...more
Mar 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The voice of the work is interesting, and Shepard does, in my opinion, dialogue very well.

Even if the title of the book is stories, most of it are but poems and prose poems. Some of them very good.

I didn't like how none of the pieces got that much into the characters. They were episodic and therefore lost their power. Shepard also lists many Native American groups, but he also didn't get into depth about their cultures. Maybe for a busy man, this was all he had time for.
Steven Pattison
Jan 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Labeling this new collection by Sam Shepard as "stories" might be a little generous - the majority of the writing pieces collected here are barely a page long. There's a memorable story here and there but overall this book seem to be made up of narrative thoughts or scenes I liked this book though, despite the fact that it was far different from his previous story collection "Great Dreams of Heaven"
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm seriously in love with Sam Shepard. I first read True West >, and loved it. His depictions of violence and the West are beautiful (yes, there is something surreal and lovely about the way he writes violence). These stories, though they don't have a plot, per se, are all connected in subtle ways that reward the reader. At its core, this book is a testament to Shepard's incredible talent for mood and tone.
Jun 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
I think this book is an acquired taste, since I'm reading so many positive reviews on this site there must be something good about this book that I'm missing. To be honest, I didn't even venture beyond the first few stories. I love Sam Shepard's plays but the stories were too disjointed and short for me to feel connected to any of them (and besides I wasn't enjoying them) so I decided to jump ship early.
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Whenever I read (new to me) writers, I read with an eye and ear out for voice: does this writer inspire me to write? Do I like their style and want to appropriate it into my own stylistic lexicon? I answered yes to both of these questions when I read Sam Shepard. His play on words is simple, yet so pleasing.
Mark Thomas
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some poetry, some short stories, some serial storylines, some rants, some ramblings...all of which seem to somehow tie together into an interesting read.

Great read for a traveler or bedtime reader as you can go in and out of this work seamlessly. It is present, you can snack on it easily.
Al Riske
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: influences
Lots of great one- and two-page stories in this collection. Vivid scenes of life along the highways of America and Mexcico. Little slices of life (and death). Some of the best stories are pure dialogue. One-act plays, in effect. Others are more like random memories than stories. There are some longer, more traditional pieces as well. A smattering of poems, too. It's all good.

Jun 24, 2010 rated it did not like it
A cheap Cormac McCarthy knockoff. If you love non-The Road McCarthy, this will be right up your alley-- although you may also find yourself aghast at how brazenly Shepard cribs McCarthy's atmosphere and style. If on the other hand you find McCarthy to be a tiresome, repetitive ass like I do, then there's no need to waste your time on this.
Jan 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
As a playwright, one of Shepard's strengths is his monologues. In the course of two or three paragraphs, he can take you on a trip to some place unique--and usually ends by dumping you in the desert. The current work, structured loosely as linked stories, is loaded with vignettes by Shepard the monologist at his tangiest.
Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
This guys carves bite-sized treasures out of stones. Tracing haphazard courses across America and Mexico, he brings the head, the heart, and soul to bare. Relationships, with old loves, with the body, aging, remembering. Quiet little pieces that bring immense depth and ache to the seemingly banal. But hey, I'm a fan.
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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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