ISBN: 0375405054 - Alfred A. Knopf - 2002  (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0436205947 - Secker & Warburg (UK) - 2002 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0375704523 - Vintage - 2003 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0786251948 - Thorndike Press - 2003 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0099443686 - Random House - 2003 (Paperback)

In his second collection of short fiction, 'Great Dream of Heaven,' Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard offers a resonant examination of interpersonal crisis and revelation in 18 lean tales. At times humorous, tense, and tragic, these stories often focus on the elusive search for connection and understanding, visiting characters at key moments of consciousness or detachment. Seized by compulsion or repression, many in this work disengage from life by assuming familiar roles or patterns. In "The Stout of Heart," a man obsessed with horse breeding locks himself in his room annually to study catalogues, shutting out his family, while in "An Unfair Question," another man's frustration with his role as husband and father surfaces when he engages a party guest in friendly conversation and ends up holding her at gunpoint. These stories achieve an understated impact due in part to Shepard's knack for acute dialogue and descriptions that reveal his dramatist's eye for sparse but evocative detail. In "Living the Sign," a handmade sign in a fast food restaurant inspires a man to self-awareness, though he finds that its teenage creator is only dimly aware of its significance. "The Remedy Man," the collection's first and strongest story, tells of a guarded boy who comes to realize his potential by helping E.V., the road-worn title character (a fixer of bad horses), break a stallion. "Horse is just like a human being," E.V. tells him. "He's just gotta know his limits. Once he finds that out he's a happy camper." Offering many such moments of distilled wisdom, the stories in Great Dream of Heaven are no less brief but memorable encounters.   (Source:

The cover of the book is actually a family photograph showing Sam and his son Walker.


"These stories - some of them only a couple of pages - slide down as sweetly as Jack Daniels and Coke, but are a little more satisfying."    ...Peter Bacon, The Birmingham Post

"Shepard's mastery as a short story writer reflects his gifts as both playwright and actor."  ...Booklist

"Though better known as a playwright, Shepard is also an accomplished narrative writer, as these brief and intensely focused tales attest. Rendering small events with poetic compression, the author typically zeroes in on lonely souls whose thoughts reveal how everyday life intersects with truths as large as the Western landscape."  ...Scott Veale, NY Times

"Shepard is adept at point-of-view, uses words wisely, and returns to many past themes in these stories — the value of persistence, the struggle to understand relationships, attraction and regret, and the ruthless nature of wide-open country that still trumps urban life. He plies his particular brand of brilliance with a flair for the flinty."   ...Wolf Schneider, The Sante Fe New Mexican

"Sam Shepard's new collection of stories, 'Great Dream of Heaven,' is an unalloyed triumph."    ...Frank J. Baldaro, American Theatre

"While he's justly famous as a playwright, Shepard is more than a dabbler in prose fiction. The best stories in 'Great Dream of Heaven' can stand up to those of any wunderkind in the New Yorker."   ...Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"When it resists self-explication and lets the lonely silences breathe, Shepard's prose recalls a smokier Raymond Carver -- and where he's calling from is a motel on the highway headed out of town."   ...Scott Brown, Entertainment Weekly

"Shepard demonstrates that his talents aren't restricted to playwriting and acting...  Shepard's dialogue is as sharp as you'd expect, but one of his real strengths is the feel of space he gives to his stories, not just because of the settings - deserts, isolated towns and long, empty roads - but because of what's left unsaid."  ...Simon Beckett, BBC

"These sketches are simple but deeply intuitive and true."   ...Publisher's Weekly

"This new collection of 18 stories by Sam Shepard reveals - yet again - the multi-faceted talents of a writer who may be better known for his dramas or for his acting."  ...Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Shepard does to fiction what a good espresso machine does to coffee -- he makes it dense, and he makes it fast. He doesn't give up much in the process. The themes are vintage Shepard."   ...Seattle Times

"In 'Great Dream of Heaven,' the playwright-actor crafts fine short stories."  ...The Oregonian

"With 45 plays to his credit, Sam Shepard would be excused if he took a break now and then, but he appears to have nothing of the kind in mind. Between plays and movies, he writes fiction. His new collection of 18 tales, 'Great Dream of Heaven, ' is terse, tough, fine reading."   ...Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"These new stories from the prize-winning playwright should not be missed."  ...Library Journal

"Shepard largely eschews the lazy indulgences of the dilettante and mostly succeeds in putting his gifts as a playwright to fine and understated use in his short fiction. He has, as expected, a terrific ear for dialogue and an eye for telling details that is missing in much modern fiction. In their careful craft and mysterious revelations, the best stories in 'Great Dream of Heaven' recall no one so much as the greatest of literary crossover artists, Chekhov."  ...Brad Zellar, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Strong emotions . . . make a Sam Shepard story as familiar as an old leather saddle. . . . Shepard’s terse, lyrical style excels. . . . There’s something broadly American . . . about the frustrations his characters feel."  ...San Francisco Chronicle

"His playwriting skills . . . make his fiction shimmer with a brutal clarity."   ...Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Collections like this can sometimes be a pretty mixed bag but with the confident hand of Shepard you are guaranteed a fascinating and alluring read. Highly recommended."  ...Mike Atherton,