Sam Shepard, The One Inside (New York: Knopf, 2017), 172pp.
Near the end of these dreamy and staccato fragments of interiority, the unnamed narrator, who like Shepard is a writer and actor who lives in the desert Southwest, dismisses Freudian interpretations of his relationship with his father as so much claptrap. Don't believe him. If there are any themes that make these disparate bursts of reflection cohere, they are the classical forces of Eros and Thanatos (particularly suicide).
The narrator and his father both had a relationship with an adolescent girl named Felicity. In a different and passive-aggressive relationship with The Blackmail Girl, who's fifty years his junior, the narrator repeats his father's transgression. She threatens to publish their salacious recorded phone conversations as a way to jump start her literary career.
In a recurring reflection, the son sees his father as a shrunken miniature, “wrapped up tight in see-through plastic… He’s become very small in the course of things — maybe eight inches tall.” He has flashbacks to his boyhood, and to his father carpet bombing Germany in World War II. And so he admits, "I see my father in everything. He just pops up." On page after page, surreal and grotesque hallucinations plague the old man.
Readers who are familiar with Shepard's life will interpret all this as more like autobiographical fiction than anything even close to a normal novel. Others have noted themes that are found in his staggering output of other works (over fifty plays). Once described as "the greatest American playwright of his generation," Shepard (born 1943) has also distinguished himself as an actor who's appeared in some sixty films, screenwriter, memoirist, and director. In 1979 he won the Pulitzer Prize for his play Buried Child. This is the "one" who takes us "inside" his restless psyche.