Spy of the First Person

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The final book from American actor, writer, and director Sam Shepard is a study in contrasts. Spy of the First Person is a fractured narrative in that it is told from two different perspectives, an older man suffering from illness and the neighbor who watches him. The delineation of perspectives isn’t always clear–the smallest details give away whose voice you’re reading at a given time, but it feels as though this muted line is intentional.

Written in the last year or so of his life, Shepard may have been trying to comment on the way he felt outside himself as he watched age and ALS ravage his body. In that way, the two narrative voices in this slim volume–only 82 pages–may both belong to Shepard. He is the older man, ill, sitting in a rocking chair, reading a long book, eating cheese and crackers with increasing difficulty as his motor skills escape him. And he is the spy, peering through binoculars, worried for the older man but also questioning the older man’s motives.

This book, beautifully presented by Borzoi Books, is a labor of love, one Shepard’s children and friends helped to complete as he slowly approached the end of his life. And that is the feeling you’re left with after reading it: that when we come to the end we hope there are those who love us enough to be there when we go, as we hobble, humbly, toward the end.


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Author Sam Shepard
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 96 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2017-Dec-05
ISBN 9780525521563
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue March 2018
Category Modern Literature
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