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Sam Shepard is arguably America’s finest working dramatist, as well as an accomplished screenwriter, actor, and director. Winner of a Pulitzer Prize, he has written more than forty-five plays, including True West, Fool for Love, and Buried Child. Shepard has also appeared in more than fifty films, beginning with Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in The Right Stuff. Despite the publicity his work and life have attracted, however, Shepard remains a strongly private man who has said many times that he will never write a memoir. But he has written intensively about his inner life and creative work to his former father-in-law and housemate, Johnny Dark, who has been Shepard’s closest friend, surrogate brother (they’re nearly the same age), and even artistic muse for forty-five years and counting.
Two Prospectors gathers nearly forty years of correspondence and transcribed conversations between Shepard and Dark. In these gripping, sometimes gut-wrenching letters, the men open themselves to each other with amazing honesty. Shepard’s letters give us the deepest look we may ever get into his personal philosophy and creative process, while in Dark’s letters we discover insights into Shepard’s character that only an intimate friend could provide. The writers also reflect on the books and authors that stimulate their thinking, their relationships with women (including Shepard’s anguished decision to leave his wife and son—Dark’s stepdaughter and grandson—for actress Jessica Lange), personal struggles, and accumulating years. Illustrated with Dark’s candid, revealing photographs of Shepard and their mutual family across many years, as well as facsimiles of numerous letters, Two Prospectors is a compelling portrait of a complex friendship that has anchored both lives for decades, a friendship also poignantly captured in Treva Wurmfeld’s film, Shepard & Dark (Music Box Films).
"A bright pathway directly into the hearts and minds of two compelling men."
"For Shepard completists, particularly those swept up by his stories in Motel Chronicles, Cruising Paradise, and Great Dream of Heaven, 2 Prospectors is essential reading. For more casual readers, these epistles are a celebration of a friendship sustained by writing."
—Anthony Miller, Los Angeles Magazine
"…they did end up finishing the book and, yes, you can read it right now (it’s a corker)."
—Drew Taylor, Indiewire
"Since Shepard has said that he is not interested in writing his memoirs, this collection of letters may be the only primary written record of the esteemed playwright’s life. Photographs of Shepard and Dark and snapshots of the handwritten letters, interspersed throughout, add visual interest. Verdict: For fans of Shepard, theater buffs, and English and theater students."
—Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach City Library System, Library Journal
"It's fascinating to read about folks who inspire creative genius―otherwise known as muses…Two Prospectors offers the reader nearly four decades of letters, taped conversations, and photos shared between Shepard and Dark, resulting in a fascinating study of friendship and artistic pursuit."
―Cowboys and Indians
“This collection supplements the reader’s understanding of Shepard’s career, but it also stands on its own as a moving narrative.”
―Texas Books in Review