Everyone seems to understand a piece of Sam Shepard--macho movie actor, off-Broadway revolutionary, reclusive horse breeder, Dean of American Playwrights--but assembling these personas into a coherent individual would daunt the bravest of biographers. Leslie A. Wade, a University of Louisiana associate theater professor, strives to chart Shepard's obsessions and writing phases and to put them in context, both with Shepard's personal life and with the America he supposedly embodies. Wade's dry style sometimes poorly serves the passionate subject matter, but he provides new Shepard fans with perspective and plot summaries that are superior to all previous efforts. The full-blooded Shepard biography is still waiting to be written, but this vigorous attempt may well serve as its outline.
?Undergraduates with no knowledge of Shepard, his plays, or the culture of the Unted States from the sixties through much of the nineties will find the narrative extremely easy to follow. The notes listed at the end of the chapter are quite thorough and will lead students to most of the major studies of Shepard's work to date. The Chronology, Further Reading list, and the Index all provide easy access to discussions of individual plays, significant moments in Shepard's life and the major historical events and trends that inform the plays....Wade's book will be useful in introductory college courses.?-Modern Drama