Hawk Moon: A Book of Short Stories, Poems, and Monologues.
Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1973

New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1981

Motel Chronicles and Hawk Moon. London: Faber and Faber, 1985.


In this collection of more than fifty monologues, short stories and poems - Shepard's first - one of America's most acclaimed writers and actors reflects on growing up in America, rock and roll, the sex of fishes, and other topics. Shepard displays his virtuosic sense of the rhythms of the American landscape.


London Review
Described as ‘a book of short stories, poems and monologues’, there’s something scrappy and inconsequential, lightweight, about the collection. There are breathless, unpunctuated prose-poems and cute little seven or eight-liners in free verse in the style of Richard Brautigan. The stories are stronger, but with a maximum length of four pages they are often too tersely anecdotal to gather real momentum. The best are sharp, macabre histories of urban fear and violence...

What becomes increasingly clear is that Shepard is ill at ease in his own voice (where the poems come from) and not too certain of his role as detached narrator either. The atmosphere is ostentatiously anti-cultural, sometimes gratuitously distasteful; the tone is strident, tough, out to shock. It’s like Rimbaud on the rampage, without much trace of the literary talent. Six or seven times, however, he really hits his stride and it’s usually when he’s dealing with the parts of America he loves; or finds fluency and poise in the monologue of an assumed personality...

For Shepard the two Americas exist simultaneously: the mechanised world of motor-car, radio culture, rootlessness and nuclear threat; and the ancient, often mythical world of the Frontier, the Wild West, the prairies, Indian spells and superstitions.

Cultural Critic & Essayist Mark Dery:
At their best, Hawk Moon's poems and short, short stories have the fishtailing, careering momentum of Jayne Mansfield's deathmobile, which, as it happens, puts in an appearance, in "The Curse of the Raven's Black Feather": "Visions of wrecks. Visions of wrecked stars; Jayne Mansfield's severed head. Jackson Pollock. Jimmy Dean. Visions of wrecked cars. Asleep at the wheel." We can hear the incoming buzzbomb squall of punk rock in Shepard's hopped-up, free-associated imagery, and in the manic glee of his depictions of a post-'60s America gone to seed.

In "Seven is a Number in Magic," a marauding gang of feral kids—close kin to William Burroughs's Wild Boys, on "customized Schwinns and stolen bikes with raccoon tails flying from the handle bars…and mud flaps with red and orange reflectors and the Ace of Spades stuck in their spokes"—surround a gaggle of nurses, out for a night on the town. Slashing the young women "with silver car antennas like whips," they steal their purses. When one of the nurses makes a run for it, a boy gives chase, "doing wheel stands and burning rubber right on her heels." Lopping off her ear with a switchblade, he brandishes it in triumph. The next day, alone on a rooftop, he threads a leather thong through the ear and hangs it around his neck, a fetish object for the Lord of the Flies. "He stands up and raises a fist to the sky. The Gods are well pleased."