|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,
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
Described as Ďa book of short stories, poems and
monologuesí, thereís 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. Itís like Rimbaud on the
rampage, without much trace of the literary talent. Six
or seven times, however, he really hits his stride and
itís usually when heís 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.