Sam Shepard is truly a man of many forms. A former musician, a current actor, and playwright, he has seen and conquered the creative aspects of the human mind. An author no less, he has given America a truly stunning vision of what our country is—a broken puzzle with many pieces that will never fit together.
Day out of Days: Stories begins where the narrator does his best work, the kitchen. “Now I’ve got my own kitchen deep in the country with a big round table smack in the middle,” he states as he describes a jumbled snapshot of his past. “I’m in this bunker all my own, surrounded by mysterious stuff.”
The narrator, Shepard’s alter ego, is searching within himself the answers to this unending uncertainty. By the end of “Days,” I could hardly tell if he put the pieces together, or if they were still drifting along the vast expanse of an American wasteland.
One story involves the narrator’s encounter with a head. Not a typical occurrence in every day life, but as our character begins to carefully inspect in head, it begins to speak.
The narrator does what anyone would do, and drops it to run. But with gradual persistence, the head prods the man to help him, again and again. With careful narration of his intentions and an unyielding approach, the man accepts his fate as a companion to this poor soul, the head. “We are a man with two heads,” states the head as he is carried to a new beginning. This struck me as a metaphor for how one accepts their fate even though it may be against their particular interest. All of us can relate to that.
Towards the end of the collection, I began to accept my fate as a tiny little peg in a disorderly Lite-Brite. However, as the title suggests, maybe Shepard instructs us only to take what we see a day at a time, and not to be downtrodden in the vast expanse. However, despite the dark tone of this work, it made me feel that maybe there is some order to the chaos coming from our creative minds.
Patrique Ludan writes for The Battalion at Texas A&M University.