Dances With Films LA https://dwfla.com/2020/movies/roys-world-barry-giffords-chicago/ WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 livestreaming at 2:45PM/Pacific to US viewers Q & A immediately after the film featuring Barry Gifford + Lili Taylor + Rob Christopher SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 livestreaming at 2:00PM/Pacific to US viewers Q & A immediately after the film featuring Barry Gifford + Lili Taylor + Rob Christopher
SF DocFEst FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 https://sfdocfest2020.eventive.org/films/5f1741be799de80029a81930 video-on-demand presentation available any time on September 18 this screening (using geoblocking technology) will be viewable to those in California only. live Q & A at 7:45PM/Pacific, featuring Barry Gifford + Rob Christopher
New paperback available for pre-order September 22, 2020.
A tie-in to the new documentary, Roy’s World, directed by Rob Christopher narrated by Lili Taylor, Matt Dillon and Willem Dafoe, these stories comprise one of Barry Gifford’s most enduring works, his homage to the gritty Chicago landscape of his youth.
Barry Gifford has been writing the story of America in acclaimed novel after acclaimed novel for the last half-century. At the same time, he’s been writing short stories, his “Roy stories,” that show America from a different vantage point, a certain mix of innocence and worldliness. Reminiscent of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Ernest Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories, Gifford’s Roy stories amount to the coming-of-age novel he never wrote, and are one of his most important literary achievements—time-pieces that preserve the lost worlds of 1950s Chicago and the American South, the landscape of postwar America seen through the lens of a boy’s steady gaze.
The twists and tragedies of the adult world seem to float by like curious flotsam, like the show girls from the burlesque house next door to Roy’s father’s pharmacy who stop by when they need a little help, or Roy’s mom and the husbands she weds and then sheds after Roy’s Jewish mobster father’s early death. Life throws Roy more than the usual curves, but his intelligence and curiosity shape them into something unforeseen, while Roy’s complete lack of self-pity allow the stories to seem to tell themselves.
A masterpiece of mood and setting, character and remembrance, The Cuban Club is Barry Gifford’s ultimate coming-of-age story told as sixty-seven linked tales, a creation myth of the Fall as seen through the eyes of an innocent child on the cusp of becoming an innocent man.
Set in Chicago in the 1950s and early 1960s against the backdrop of small-time hoodlums in the Chicago mob and the girls and women attached to them, there is the nearness of heinous crimes, and the price to be paid for them. To Roy and his friends, these twists and tragedies drift by like curious flotsam. The tales themselves are koan-like, often ending in questions, with rarely a conclusion. The story that closes the book is in the form of a letter from Roy to his father four years after his father’s death, but written as if he were still alive. Indeed, throughout The Cuban Club Roy is still in some doubt whether divorce or even death really exists in a world where everything seems so alive and connected.
“What Gifford does with just a few pages is nothing short of magical. These very short stories straddle innocence and experience, good and evil. His tales are always dense with information, yet register with dreamlike intensity and have the resonance of an epiphany.” Jim Ruland, author of Forest of Fortune