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Sam Shepard

A Life

List Price: $16.95

March 20, 2018 | Paperback | 5.5 x 8.25, 464 pages | ISBN 9781619029736
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“John Winters offers a master class in literary sleuthing, untangling the many lives and unearthing the origin story of America’s foremost Renaissance man of letters.” —Kelly Horan, coauthor of Devotion and Defiance

The first comprehensive biography of Sam Shepard in 30 years draws on newly available letters and journals, as well as dozens of interviews—now with a new epilogue, added by the author after Shepard’s untimely death in July of 2017

With more than fifty-five plays to his credit—including the 1979 Pulitzer Prize–winning Buried Child, an Oscar nod for his portrayal of Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff, and an onscreen persona that’s been aptly summed up as “Gary Cooper in denim”—Sam Shepard’s impact on American theater and film ranks with the greatest playwrights and actors of the past half-century.

Sam Shepard: A Life gets to the heart of Sam Shepard, presenting a compelling and comprehensive account of his life and work.

In a new epilogue, added by the author after Shepard’s untimely death in July of 2017, John J. Winters offers a glimpse into the enigmatic author’s last days, when very few knew he was suffering from ALS.

JOHN J. WINTERS is a veteran journalist, a critic, and academic who has made Sam Shepard the focus of his scholarship. In addition to working for The Boston Globe and countless newspapers, Winters’s work has appeared in Playboy, Salon, The Providence Journal, Art New England, the Providence Phoenix, Runner’s World and Rhode Island Monthly. He is a regular contributor of reviews and commentary to Boston’s National Public Radio affiliate, WBUR.

Praise

“[An] excellent biography . . . Mr. Winters is especially good on the backstage of one of Mr. Shepard’s most frequently revived works, True West . . . Mr. Winters has an interesting story to tell, and he recounts it ably, bringing us close to a figure who, he admits, avoids intimacy.” ―The Wall Street Journal

“[A] new, thoroughly researched biography . . . Winters does indeed capture a personality more anxious and self-doubting than previous biographers have grasped.” ―The Washington Post

“[A] literary fact-finding mission…”―Playbill

“First-time biographer Winters, a journalist and critic, meticulously presents the facts of Shepard’s complex life along with incisive descriptions and analyses of diverse productions of Shepard’s demanding and innovative plays…. Ultimately, Winters portrays Shepard as a magnetic, enigmatic, and multitalented artist drawing on a deep well of loneliness and self-questioning, keen attunement to the zeitgeist, and penetrating insight into human nature.” —Booklist, Starred Review

“A journalist who has devoted years to Shepard’s life and works debuts with a comprehensive account of the life of the prolific playwright, poet, fiction writer, musician, and more… [T]he book is unquestionably well-informed and -researched. A thorough, admiring work that is nonetheless honest about what the author views as Shepard’s late-career decline.”―Kirkus Reviews

“Highly recommended to theater and movie lovers.”―Library Journal

 

“Winters has produced an engrossing examination of the enigmatic Sam Shepard in this first major (and unauthorized) biography. Drawing on widely scattered archival sources and dozens of interviews with Shepard’s family, friends and colleagues, he has deftly sorted out the authentic ore of fact from the farrago of legends, rumors and canards surrounding one of the greatest playwrights and actors of our time. Along the way Winters has shrewdly delineated Shepard’s relations with Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Wim Wenders, and Jessica Lange, the love of his life.” ―Michael Lennon, author of Norman Mailer: A Double Life

“Impeccably researched and beautifully written, author John Winters gives us an unflinching, deep dive into the psyche, imagination and soul of Sam Shepard. Packed with exclusive new details of Shepard’s amazing and intriguing life, it’s essential reading for fans of this enigmatic playwright, minstrel and actor.” ―Dave Wedge, co-author of Boston Strong: A City’s Triumph Over Tragedy and Challenge: The Story of Pete Frates and the Ice Bucket Challenge

“John Winters offers a master class in literary sleuthing, untangling the many lives and unearthing the origin story of America’s foremost Renaissance man of letters, Sam Shepard. One part literary detective story, one part un-put-downable page-turner, Sam Shepard: A Life will serve as the definitive account of one of the 20th century’s most enigmatic, beguiling and beloved figures of the stage, screen and page.” ―Kelly Horan, WBUR radio and co-author of Devotion and Defiance: My Journey in Love, Faith and Politics.

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