Literature: Shepard’s Day Out of Days

“Everything’s coming back to me now. In tiny pieces.”
–from “Duarte,” in DAY OUT OF DAYS

Title: Day Out of Days // Author: Sam Shepard // Publisher: Knopf // Pub Date: January, 2010 // 304 p.

Every once in a while—maybe once or twice a year—I come across a book that gets me all fired up. This year, it’s happened early with Sam Shepard’s Day Out of Days, published in the first week of January. Actor and playwright Shepard’s new book is a collection of wacky vignettes that take place in primarily out-there Western settings—places such as “Williams, Arizona (Highway 40 West),” “Taos,” and “Cracker Barrel Men’s Room (Highway 90 West).” These short stories and poems range in length from a half a page to a few pages at most, and they have a random, unexpected feel. Take, for instance, a severed head that talks and resurfaces throughout the collection. Who knows what Shepard meant by this theme of decapitated talking heads? It worked for me as a reminder of how unhinged the characters, ideas, and places are that Shepard brings to life here. In its originality, this book had me howling with pleasure. Day Out of Days is a weird book, for sure, but that’s why I like it. It’s a must-read for anyone who revels in random details, down-and-out tales from the road, and stories that shouldn’t make sense, but strangely somehow do.

To read my brief review of Sam Shephard’s Day Out of Days in the February 15, 2010 issue of High Country News, click here.

Photo credit: Knopf.

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