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The Resource Spy of the first person, Sam Shepard

Spy of the first person, Sam Shepard

Label
Spy of the first person
Title
Spy of the first person
Statement of responsibility
Sam Shepard
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
In searing, beautiful prose, Sam Shepard's extraordinary narrative leaps off the page with its immediacy and power. It tells in a brilliant braid of voices the story of an unnamed narrator who traces, before our rapt eyes, his memories of work, adventure, and travel as he undergoes medical tests and treatments for a condition that is rendering him more and more dependent on the loved ones who are caring for him. The narrator's memories and preoccupations often echo those of our current moment--for here are stories of immigration and community, inclusion and exclusion, suspicion and trust. But at the book's core, and his, is family--his relationships with those he loved, and with the natural world around him. Vivid, haunting, and deeply moving, Spy of the First Person takes us from the sculpted gardens of a renowned clinic in Arizona to the blue waters surrounding Alcatraz, from a New Mexico border town to a condemned building on New York City's Avenue C. It is an unflinching expression of the vulnerabilities that make us human--and an unbound celebration of family and life
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ Early in 2017, Shepard, the author of 55 gutsy and imaginative plays and three transporting short story collections, published his first novel, The One Inside; he then died that summer after a long battle with ALS. Now, just before the year closes, his final work of fiction, written in the grip of that debilitating disease, appears. A meshing of memoir and invention, it snares with virtuoso precision both nature’s constant vibrancy and the stop-action of illness. Told in short takes pulsing with life and rueful wit, it portrays one man spying on another from across the street, raising binoculars to better watch his subject struggling to make the simplest motions and family members appearing from within the house to offer help and company. As for the nearly immobilized man, he is remembering his immigrant mother, a troubling night in New York City, and visits to a famous Arizona clinic in pursuit of a “magic cure.” He also offers acid commentary on episodes in American history, and revels in the resonance of words. Gradually the spy and the man on the porch merge, and the resilient yet reconciled narrator celebrates family love beneath a full moon in the farewell beauty of twilight. A gorgeously courageous and sagacious coda to Shepard’s innovative and soulful body of work. -- Seaman, Donna (Reviewed 11/15/2017) (Booklist, vol 114, number 6, p24)
  • /* Starred Review */ This slim but potent volume, which playwright Shepard (The One Inside) finished shortly before his death in 2017, alternates two voices in a poignant, unsettling double monologue. One narrator is a man who spends most of his time sitting in a “rocking chair that looks like it was lifted from a Cracker Barrel” on the porch of a house in the Southwest, and who occasionally makes family outings to a local Mexican restaurant or to a prestigious medical clinic founded by two brothers from Minnesota. On the porch, he talks to himself, or to his son, recalling events they shared or didn’t. Across the road, someone else observes him, trying to make sense of him. The observer watches the porch sitter eat cheese and crackers and notes dispassionately that “his hands and arms don’t work much,” while the sitter himself prefers to dwell in the past, since the present has little to offer. Elegant, unpretentious, funny, and touching without demanding sympathy, the book, edited with the help of Shepard’s friend Patti Smith (Just Kids), gently escorts the reader out to the edge where life meets death. (Dec.) --Staff (Reviewed 01/29/2018) (Publishers Weekly, vol 265, issue 5, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ A sharply observed, slender novel set in familiar Shepard (The One Inside, 2017, etc.) territory: a dusty, windblown West of limitless horizons and limited means of escape. An image at the beginning of what is billed as the recently deceased Shepard's final work of fiction—until the next one is found in a drawer, presumably—offers arresting portent: robins are singing, chirping away, not so much out of happiness with the world but, as the nameless narrator says, "I think mostly protecting nests" from all the "big bad birds" that are out to get their little blue eggs. The world is full of big bad birds, and one is the terror of a wasting neurological disease that provides the novel's closing frame: two sons and an ailing father lagging behind the rest of their family as they make their way up the street in a little desert ville. "We made it and we hobbled up the stairs," says the old man. "Or I hobbled. My sons didn't hobble, I hobbled." It's exactly of a piece with True West and other early Shepard standards, and one can imagine Shepard himself playing the part of that old man in an understated, stoical film. In between, it's all impression, small snapshots of odd people and odd moments ("People are unlocking their cars from a distance. Pushing buttons, zapping their cars, making the doors buzz and sing, making little Close Encounters of the Third Kind noises"). It's easy to lose track of where one voice ends and another begins, where the young man leaves off and the old man picks up the story: explaining the title, the young narrator likens himself to an employee of a "cryptic detective agency," even as the old man, taking up the narration in turn, wonders why he's being so closely watched when he can barely move. In the end, this is a story less of action than of mood, and that mood is overwhelmingly, achingly melancholic. The story is modest, the poetry superb. A most worthy valediction. (Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2017)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10617427
Cataloging source
YDX
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1943-2017
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Shepard, Sam
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
LC call number
PS3569.H394
LC item number
S69 2017
Literary form
novels
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Memory
  • Families
  • Memory
  • Families
  • Memory
Target audience
juvenile
Label
Spy of the first person, Sam Shepard
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Note
"This is a Borzoi book"--Title page verso
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
on1006308894
Dimensions
19 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
82 pages
Isbn
9780525521563
Lccn
2017956676
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other control number
99975097713
System control number
(OCoLC)1006308894
Label
Spy of the first person, Sam Shepard
Publication
Copyright
Note
"This is a Borzoi book"--Title page verso
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
on1006308894
Dimensions
19 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
82 pages
Isbn
9780525521563
Lccn
2017956676
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other control number
99975097713
System control number
(OCoLC)1006308894

Library Locations

    • Dallas Public LibraryBorrow it
      950 Main Street, Dallas, OR, 97338, US
      44.941959 -123.317528
    • Silver Falls Library DistrictBorrow it
      410 S. Water Street, Silverton, OR, 97381, US
      45.003378 -122.781322
    • Stayton Public LibraryBorrow it
      515 N First Avenue, Stayton, OR, 97383, US
      44.799165 -122.794497
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