ISBN: 0679415645 - Knopf - 1996 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0679742174 - Vintage/Random House - 1997 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0436203332 - Secker & Warburg (UK) - 1996  (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0749386657 - Minerva (UK) - 1997  (Paperback)
ISBN: 0679451986 - Random House Audiobooks - 1996

40 swiftly told tales in the unmistakable voice of Sam Shepard. Terse, lyric, alive, these tales range in key from the sad to the hilarious. Some are rounded stories, some are miniatures, some are dialogues at once cryptic and mesmerizing, some are excerpts from an actor's diary. Together they present their author's singular vision of ancestry and childhood, sexual passion and betrayal, family and fame, in a voice as spare as an Arizona mesa, as quintessentially American as a 40's jazz song. Cruising Paradise is a book that locates places where our culture is defined and at the same time brings us closer than we have yet been to a writer who has become synonymous with the recklessness, stoicism, and solitude of American manhood.


"Such sad, unsentimental tales capture not only the dissonances of familial life, but also the fundamental loneliness of the human condition, the same themes explored with such ferocity and lyricism in Mr. Shepard's work for the theater. 'Cruising Paradise' serves as both a welcome companion piece to his plays and a kind of map to the writer's mind."  ...Michiko Kakutani, NY Times

"Shepard delivers far more than low-rent grit and looming despair. True to his gifts, he presents these tales in straightforward and uncondescending ways, with transcendent wit, and the sum is compassion. In 'Cruising Paradise' the landscape is never just a backdrop. And his characters, on their strange journeys, are never just curios: They live, as we do, in both flesh and spirit."   ...C.L. Rawlins, Washington Post

"Shepard has right stuff in his first collection... The first two-thirds of 'Paradise,' tales of fiction and personal history, find the California-raised writer on familiar turf - motels, bars, the rootless road culture of Western spaces. His style has some of the spare dignity of Hemingway and the funny, slouchy slanginess of an anti-hero."   ...Dan Hulbert, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Shepard's pieces of pure dialogue are hit-or-miss affairs, and some of his slice-of-life meanderings are merely evocative, if always dexterously rendered. But his more developed stories are vividly compelling and often funny, delineating rugged landscapes peopled by loners, cowpunks - and even a few movie stars."  ...Margot Mifflin, Entertainment Weekly

"Sam Shepard's reputation as a talented playwright, screenwriter and actor is well established by his many films and more than 40 plays. With his new collection of short stories, Cruising Paradise, one can add to this list that of an impressive writer of fiction. His gritty, poignant tales of the young, the old, the street-wise and the innocent are brilliantly crafted and an excellent read."   ...Birmingham News

"It would be a serious mistake to look on these stories as a by-product of his status as a celebrity. Shepard was first a writer and has established himself as one of our finest playwrights. The margin of surprise here is that he is such a very fine writer of short stories. Playwrighting and short fiction don't usually mix in such a miraculous way. The short story is closer to the play than the novel is, but they are still very different. This collection places Shepard among our best short story writers."   ...Terry Doran, Buffalo News

"'Cruising Paradise', a captivating collection of 40 micro-stories, brooding monologues and eerie dialogues, features a motley cast of loners, losers, introverts and tough guys caught in crisis.Written over a span of six years, these inimitable 'swiftly told-tales', as Sam Shepard's publisher describes them, are a brilliant fiction debut by the Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright."   ...Miami Herald

"Sam Shepard - playwright, actor, ex-rock musician and real-life cowboy - has spent a great deal of time in his car. He hits the road to think, to write, to escape, to scope out the American landscape and - whenever possible - to avoid flying, which he hates.So it should come as no surprise that Shepard also burns up a lot of rubber in 'Cruising Paradise,' his quirky, moving, drolly funny and always surprising collection of short tales."  ...Chicago Sun-Times

"Sam Shepard proves himself master of short stories."  ...St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Shepard, perhaps better known as an award-winning playwright and as an actor, can illustrate a mood in a word, a character's life history in a sentence... All of the stories are fascinating. They are tales one might hear while sitting on the porch of a prairie cabin or out front of a desert beer joint, chairs tipped back, waiting for the heat of the day to pass."  ...Jennifer Greenhill-Taylor, Florida Times-Union

"Like the late Sir Noel Coward, Sam Shepard is a man of many talents: He is simultaneously an actor, a playwright, and -- as this new collection of very short stories reveals -- an insightful listener to the voices of others."   ...Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Known mostly as a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and movie actor, Shepard is comfortable enough with the short story to blur, at times, the line between the stage and the page. Like chamber music, which was originally intended for small gatherings, these stories approach the reader in the guise of shy, intimate secrets. Frequently, they emerge from something larger than life."    ...Dionisio D. Martinez, St. Petersburg Times

"As in his dramas, Shepard explores themes of solitude and loss, often tying them to the vast open spaces of America and to the siren song of its highways. And even as it plumbs shocking darkness, his writing here exhibits the gentleness and lyricism that has distinguished his acclaimed work for the stage."   ...Publishers Weekly

(Audiobook reviews below)

"Shepard weaves all these pieces into a tapestry of broken American dreams and grabs your full attention with both his prose and his performance. He brings each of his characters to life with a distinct voice, tone, and psychological presence... By the end of the tape, the listener has been filled to the bursting point with remarkable images, sounds, and feelings. This is truly a tour de force."   ...Laurence Chollet, The Bergen Record

"Shepard the writer has a knack for pulling the strands of his prose pieces taut in the pull of a final sentence. Shepard the reader does full justice to this compelling material."   ...Dick Lochte, LA Daily News

"'Cruising Paradise' is a collection of fascinating, unconventional, short-short stories by one of our most original dramatists, Sam Shepard, author of 45 plays and screenplays. An Oscar-nominated actor, Shepard reads as well, in a dry, ironic voice that adds an undefined humor. It makes this tape worth getting even if you have read the book."  ...Houston Chronicle