Cover image for A lie of the mind : a play in three acts
A lie of the mind : a play in three acts
Shepard, Sam, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Plume, [1987]

Physical Description:
155 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Plume book."
Reading Level:
NP Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC High School 7.3 11 Quiz: 20534 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3569.H394 L5 1987C Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award as the best play of the year, A Lie of the Mind is the crowning achievement to date of the premier talent in the contemporary American theater. It offers an unforgettable example of Sam Shepard's genius in creating characters who are at once intensely, immediately real yet archetypal in dimension. They are characters who embody and lay bare the deepest confusions and tragedy in an America that defines them even as they define it. Described by the author as "a love ballad ... a little legend about love," the play fills the stage and mind with a vision that is, in the words of Frank Rich in The New York Times, "as wide, long, deep, mysterious and unruly as the Mississippi River-a variously rending and hilarious reverie about parents and sons and husbands and wives, all blending into a mythic wilderness that has served writers from Harte, Twain and Cather to Welty, Didion and McMurtry." All of which is to say that a major American playwright has created a work of art no reader should miss.

Author Notes

Sam Shepard was born Samuel Shepard Rogers III on an army base in Illinois on November 5, 1943. He briefly studied agriculture at Mount San Antonio College, but dropped out to move to New York in 1962. He wrote more than 55 plays during his lifetime. His first play was produced off-off-Broadway when he was 19 years old and he won the first of his 8 Obie Awards when he was 23 years old. His plays included Chicago, The Tooth of Crime, True West, Fool for Love, A Lie of the Mind, The Late Henry Moss, Heartless, and A Particle of Dread. He received the Pulitzer Prize for drama for Buried Child in 1978.

He was an actor for both film and television. His films included Days of Heaven, The Right Stuff, and Baby Boom. He also appeared in the Netflix series Bloodline. He wrote or co-wrote several screenplays including Far North and Renaldo and Clara with Bob Dylan. He also wrote songs with John Cale and Bob Dylan including Brownsville Girl. He wrote several books including Cruising Paradise and Motel Chronicles. He died from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis on July 27, 2017 at the age of 73.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The writer-actor's latest effort won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award as the best play of the 1985-86 season. It begins just after Jake has nearly beaten his wife, Beth, to death because he thinks she's living the part she has taken in a play. She has been brain damaged by the assault, and he has tipped more than usually over the edge, so both are remanded to the arms of their families, wrangling hotbeds of self-absorption and numb hatred. Eventually, Jake escapes from his tribe and goes in search of hers, succeeding only in being captured and degraded by her brother. There's more, which Shepard dresses in macho hysterics on the part of the men and dim-bulb charm on the part of the women. Another nasty installation in the pantheon of American family-as-monster plays that includes O'Neill's Long Day's Journey, Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Hellman's Little Foxes, etc. Like most of the rest of them, this one's animating theme is supposed to be love. ``The War in Heaven,'' a forgettable little monologue, is appended. RO. 812'.54 [CIP] 86-21884

School Library Journal Review

YA The play opens with Frankie on the phone with his brother Jake, who claims to have killed his wife, Beth. Next, the lights come up on a hospital room where Beth lies, bandaged, aphasic, and confused. Alternating the action between platforms on either side of the stage where Beth's and Jake's families live, Shepard exposes the secrets of sordid pasts of insanity, alcoholism, and alienation. High-school theater students should find a number of short scenes suitable for two-person dialogues. Props and costumes would not be needed for classroom readings. A short radio monologue by Shepard and Joseph Chaikin, The War in Heaven, is included in the last 19 pages of the book. Music notes, a set description, and stage directions accompany the dialogue. Alice Conlon, University of Houston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.