The God of Hell
By Sam Shepard
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781400096510, 112pp.)
Publication Date: April 12, 2005
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Pulitzer Prize winner Sam Shepard’s latest play is an uproarious, brilliantly provocative farce that brings the gifts of a quintessentially American playwright to bear on the current American dilemma.
Frank and Emma are a quiet, respectable couple who raise cows on their Wisconsin farm. Soon after they agree to put up Frank’s old friend Haynes, who is on the lam from a secret government project involving plutonium, they’re visited by Welch, an unctuous government bureaucrat from hell. His aggressive patriotism puts Frank, Emma, and Haynes on the defensive, transforming a heartland American household into a scene of torture and promoting a radioactive brand of conformity with a dangerously long half life.
Sam Shepard is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of more than forty-five plays. He was a finalist for the W. H. Smith Literary Award for his story collection Great Dream of Heaven, and he has also written the story collection Cruising Paradise, two collections of prose pieces, Motel Chronicles and Hawk Moon, and Rolling Thunder Logbook, a diary of Bob Dylan's 1975 Rolling Thunder Review tour. As an actor he has appeared in more than thirty films, and he received an Oscar nomination in 1984 for his performance in The Right Stuff. His screenplay for Paris, Texas won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, and he wrote and directed the film Far North in 1988. Shepard's plays, eleven of which have won Obie Awards, include Buried Child, The Late Henry Moss, Simpatico, Curse of the Starving Class, True West, Fool for Love, and A Lie of the Mind, which won a New York Drama Desk Award. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Shepard received the Gold Medal for Drama from the Academy in 1992, and in 1994 he was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.
“Startling.... Apocalyptic.... A confident and unsettling scenario of surreal doom.” –The New Yorker
“A robust new farce that shows Mr. Shepard’s gift for finding deadpan surrealism in bucolic speech.” –The New York Times
“Deliriously entertaining and deeply scary.... A shivering work of existential mystery.” –Newsday