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For forty years—a Biblical time span—The Roy Stories has been the one continuous unbroken line in the otherwise kaleidoscopic career of one of America’s greatest living writers. Collected here for the first time, the Roy stories of Barry Gifford chronicle his personal history of a time—roughly, the late 1940s through the early 1960s—and a place—the southern and mid-western United States (Chicago, Illinois, and Key West and Miami, Florida, in particular). Similar in structure and tone to Ernest Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories, Barry Gifford’s slices of life cut to the heart and the bone. “Nearly every Gifford story opens a Pandora’s box of uncontainable emotions,” wrote Richard Dyer in the Boston Globe. “There’s no one like Barry Gifford, which is the best reason to read him.”


“The way Barry Gifford lets people talk articulates everything about their unfamiliar inner lives, and ours.”–Boston Globe

“Gifford is a master.”–Los Angeles Times

“Gifford cuts right through the heart of what makes a good novel readable and entertaining. . . . The way Barry Gifford does it, it’s high art.”–Elmore Leonard

“Gifford, a master of the short story and nasty vignette, can sum up in a few words the cruelty, horror, and crushing banality that shape an entire life.”–New York Times Book Review

“Barry Gifford invented his own American vernacular–William Faulkner by way of B-movie film noir, porn paperbacks, and Sun Records rockabilly”–Jonathan Lethem on Sailor & Lula

The Roy Stories on Amazon



Landscape with Traveler: The Pillow Book of Francis Reeves is Barry Gifford’s first full-length novel. In print for the first time in fifteen years, Landscape with Traveler is written as the protagonist’s diary—inspired by the first century Japanese writer Sei Shōnagon’s pillow book—and structured as three acclaimed short novels bound into one volume. The book recounts the deep friendship between a middle-aged gay man and a young straight man through vignette-like entries, all the while tracing a history of the US from the 1930s through 1970s.

Laying bare the themes that have marked his lifelong career: a winsome, beat-inspired frenzy of love, a generation-defining crossroads in American history — the novel tells an honest story of a male homosexual life.


“Landscape with Traveler is a novel with character. . . . The tone is so light and airy it achieves its own separate sense of time. . . beautifully refined without sacrificing wit or warmth. It’s a delight.” —The Boston Sunday Globe

“For reminding us so artfully of the difficult simplicities, reminding us of what we already know, [the protagonist] Francis Reeves will become part of our landscape.” —Washington Post Book World

“Landscape with Traveler is a major accomplishment, a small profound novel that will leave the reader utterly affected. . . Barry Gifford has created a small masterpiece.” —San Francisco Bay Guardian



A world of poems as populous and diverse as it is ephemeral and evanescent, born of the world and of books and art in equal measure, yielding granite truths and feather truths of people’s roller-coaster lives. The poet looks back, facing life and death and everything in between with equanimity, holding a steady hand to the quivering breast wherever there is breath.

Imagining-Paradise - New and Selected Poems - Barry GiffordPublished in The New Yorker, La Nouvelle Revue Fran溝ise, and in nearly a hundred magazines and poetry journals from Los Angeles to Tokyo, from Lawrence, Kansas to Rome, Madrid, Paris, London, Beijing, and Bucharest, poems by Barry Gifford have been describing and changing our world for nearly half a century. Here in one volume for the first time is the poet’s own choices from his nine previous collections, as well as a rich selection of new poems. Imagining Paradise sums up the tremendous achievement of an underground poet who lasted.

available on Amazon.com

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE:New Sailor and Lula short story

Written for the L.A. Museum of Modern Art’s “Cell Phone Stories Project.”

Gifford has set his Wild at Heart characters loose at the museum, where they’ve come upon Andy Warhol’s Black and White Disaster.


Sad Stories of the Death of Kings
Published by Seven Stories Press http://www.sevenstories.com/book/?GCOI=58322100463420Roy is a lover of adventure movies, a budding writer, and a young man slowly coming of age without the benefit of a father. Surrounding him—whether to support him or to drag him under—is the adult world of postwar Chicago, a city haunted by violence, poverty, and the redeeming power of imagination. Here are charlatans, operators, alien abductees, schoolyard nudists, and fast girls with only months to live. At the center of it all is a boy learning to navigate the compromises, disillusionments and regrets that come with the territory of living. Mixing memoir and invention, the forty-one short stories in Barry Gifford’s first book for young adults bring a city—and a boy’s growing consciousness—to vivid, unflinching life. Sad Stories of the Death of Kings


Barry Gifford’s Sad Stories of the Death of Kings gleams like a stolen silver dollar; one boy’s search for wisdom among the hustlers, criminals, and wise guys that reads as evocatively as anything out of Nelson Algren. These stories, sometimes only a page or two, riddled with sharp, subtle dialogue, all glow with the devastating, sometimes gruesome wisdom of Sherwood Anderson and Flannery O’Connor.
– Joe Meno, author of The Great Perhaps and Hairstyles of the Damned

Gifford’s great talent captures defining moments with the casual grace of anecdote. [He] makes the anecdotal monumental.
– Jonathan Keats, San Francisco Magazine

Sailor and Lula:
The Complete Novels On the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Barry Gifford’s international bestseller, Wild at Heart, and as well as the anniversary of the Palme d’Or-winning film adaptation by director David Lynch, Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels presents all of the novels and novellas that comprise the saga of Sailor Ripley and Lula Pace Fortune, “the Romeo and Juliet of the South”: Wild at Heart, Perdita Durango (also made into a feature film), Sailor’s Holiday, Sultans of Africa, Consuelo’s Kiss, Bad Day for the Leopard Man, and The Imagination of the Heart. Sailor and Lula: The Complete Novels“Gifford sketches marvelous characters as deftly as William Faulkner and animates them in scene after scene of hilarious dialogue. . .. Barry Gifford continues to be one of America’s most original writers.”
— Playboy

“Barry Gifford invented his own American vernacular — William Faulkner by way of B-movie film noir, porn paperbacks, and Sun Records rockabilly — to forge the stealth-epic of Sailor &; Lula. His accomplishment looks more and more like one of the permanent glories of recent storytelling, a set of crude masterpieces like Philip Guston’s late paintings. The compression and verve on view on every page of this compendium is as irresistible and dizzying as a dish of brandy-filled chocolates forged in shapes of pistols, hangmen’s ropes, convertible automobiles, and unclad, steamy bodies, daring you to keep gobbling them up.”
— Jonathan Lethem

“I saw Sailor and Lula in love in the middle of a crazy, violent, wild world, and I wanted to go on that trip with them. . . . It’s like looking into the Garden of Eden before things went bad.”
— David Lynch

Available now from: Seven Stories

Jacket Magazine: ‘The Truth is in the Work’ (2008)

Barry Gifford in conversation with Noel King
Berkeley, California, 27 June 2007

The Imagination of the Heart
Book Seven of the Story of Sailor and Lula The Imagination of the Heart is the final chapter in the saga of Sailor Ripley and Lula Pace Fortune, the “Romeo and Juliet of the Deep South.” Their story began in Barry Gifford’s novel Wild at Heart, which in 1990 was made into a Palme d’Or-winning feature film by David Lynch. The Imagination of the HeartFollowing Sailor’s death at the age of sixty-five in New Orleans, Lula moved back to her home state of North Carolina. This novel begins fifteen years later when Lula, at age eighty, decides to write a memoir in diary form, reflecting on her life with Sailor while also keeping a journal describing her last road trip: a journey with Beany Thorn, her best friend since childhood, back to New Orleans.Like a contemporary book of Revelations, dutifully recorded by Lula as a dialogue between self and soul, it becomes a bittersweet, often dangerous journey into the imagination of the heart, and what may lie beyond.

Gifford has been the master of hip disenfranchisement for more than a quarter of a century, and American literature is much better for his efforts. . . . Similar to Faulkner’s Yoknapatawphan County, Gifford creates a geography of interlinking and overlapping characters. . . . in search of their own proverbial dream. Lula in particular shines with an earthy casualness that makes her one of the most appealing and sympathetic characters in contemporary fiction. As Andrei Codrescu posits . . . ‘Barry Gifford is both a cult writer and a great one.’

— David Hellman, San Francisco Chronicle

Jacket Magazine: ‘The Truth is in the Work’ (2008)

Barry Gifford in conversation with Noel King
Berkeley, California, 27 June 2007

Carlos Bardem interviews Barry (2008)

Carlos Bardem interviews Barry Gifford Carlos Bardem interviews Barry in Madrid, Spain, April 2008, on the occasion of the publication of his book Las cuatro reinas (The Four Queens) by La Fabrica Editorial.

Barry Gifford / Carlos Bardem interview 1 of 3
Barry Gifford / Carlos Bardem interview 2 of 3
Barry Gifford / Carlos Bardem interview 3 of 3


Memories from a Sinking Ship Audiobook

NEW AUDIOBOOK: Memories from a Sinking Ship
“If you bemoan the lack of something different in your fiction, the search is over.”    — Andrew Vachss, The Chicago TribuneMemories from a Sinking Ship recounts a uniquely American childhood and adolescence through a boy’s travels with his mother and ailing gangster father, as well as adventures with neighborhood characters such as The Viper, The Pharaoh and Skull Dorfman. Set against the backdrop of 1950s and ’60s Chicago, the Florida Keys, and New Orleans, and similar in structure and tone to Ernest Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories and those in Nelson Algren’s The Neon Wilderness, Gifford’s Memories conjures up an intimate portrait of an America that no longer exists. Read by the author, this two-disc collection contains 25 compelling tales from the novel with evocative original music by Oscar Bucher. A selection of these stories was awarded the Christopher Isherwood Foundation Prize for Fiction in 2006.

“Nearly every Gifford story opens a Pandora’s box of uncontainable emotions,” wrote Richard Dyer in the Boston Globe. “There’s no one like Barry Gifford, which is the best reason to read him.”

Listen to a sample chapter here.


Produced and recorded
with original music by Oscar Bucher
at OB3 Studios in San Francisco

Memories from a Sinking Ship
Memories from a Sinking Ship

“Gifford cuts right through to the heart of what makes a good novel readable and entertaining. . . . The way Barry Gifford does it, it’s high art.” -Elmore Leonard

“Barry Gifford is all the proof the world will ever need that a writer who listens with his heart is capable of telling anyone’s story.” -Armistead Maupin

    click here for the rest

The Cavalry Charges
The Cavalry Charges

The Cavalry Charges, the latest collection of writing by Gifford, is part memoir, part literary criticism, and spiked with rumination on life and experience. Relating many of the key experiences that shaped him as a writer, Gifford includes: A nine-part dossier on the 1961 film One-Eyed Jacks in which Gifford examines

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The Stars Above Veracruz
The Stars Above Veracruz

“An artful ride down dangerous roads . . . but it’s a joy following [Gifford] along.”Kirkus Reviews

“Move over Hemingway (and put down the damn gun)! [The Stars Above Veracruz] just knocked my socks off.”San Francisco Chronicle

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Ball Lightning
Film: Ball Lightning
Now playing exclusively on BarryGifford.net 

Written by Barry Gifford.
Directed by Amy Glazer.
Produced by Kevin Johnson.

QuickTime required.
If you don’t have QuickTime, you can download a free player from Apple.

Il Carnevale
Il Carnevale
Now playing exclusively on BarryGifford.net 

Written by Barry Gifford & Ray Gatchalian.
Directed by Barry Gifford.
Filmed on location in Venice, Italy.QuickTime required.
If you don’t have QuickTime, you can download a free player from Apple.

Read ‘Em and Weep
Do the Blind Dream?

“Read ‘Em and Weep is an engaging collection of Gifford’s anecdotes, reviews and responses to his favorite novels. At turns deeply moving, humorous, insightful and poignant, they are each prompting literary takes, intimate and accessible.”

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Back in America
Back in America

“Barry Gifford has been chronicling the decline of Western Civilization for 25 years; as America goes, so goes Mr. Gifford.”
— The New York Times Book Review

“Barry Gifford’s pure lyrical self shines in these poems. The flickering lights visible in the swirling noir of his fiction are in the foreground here.”
— Andrei Codrescu

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Do the Blind Dream?
Do the Blind Dream?

“I love Do the Blind Dream?—a wonderful and delightful piece that tastes of Buñuel and Cocteau.”
— Pedro Almodóvar

“Barry Gifford was, is, and always shall be an American Original. His work evokes so many sensibilities, from the Beats to noir to social realism to postmodernism to cinematic, both stirring up ghosts and invoking the future. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, or for old friends catching up: Read this book.”
— Richard Price

Do the Blind Dream? shows Gifford at the height of his powers, navigating with ease the new, more fragmented imaginative landscape of morning-after America. Gifford seems to have anticipated themes that suddenly are recognizable everywhere: the fragility of identity; the power of coincidence; the illusion of a secure tomorrow.

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Brando Rides Alone
Brando Rides Alone

“In Gifford’s fundamentally twisted world, Jesus and Peckinpah seem like a natural pairing.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Gifford’s manner is mandarin; he doesn’t waste words, preach, or point out morals … there is a wild streak of black humor running through nearly everything [he writes]…. There’s no one like Barry Gifford, which is the best reason to read him.”
— Richard Dyer
Boston Globe

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The Rooster Trapped in the Reptile Room
A Barry Gifford Reader
The Rooster Trapped in the Reptile Room: A Barry Gifford Reader

“Everything I have to say about race and religion and politics is in the novels,” declares Barry Gifford. The Rooster Trapped in the Reptile Room gathers generous portions of all thirteen novels and novellas. Nine, including Wild at Heart and Night People, are restored to original sequence. The broad contours of an episodic output emerge — a full-length view of the freaks and freakish incidents that populate Gifford’s unique human comedy. A world, as Lula, the author’s favorite of all his characters, reflects, “wild at heart and weird on top.”
— Thomas A. McCarthy
Seven Stories Press

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American Falls
American Falls

“Barry Gifford is… all the proof the world will ever need that a writer who listens with his heart is capable of telling anyone’s story.”
— Armistead Maupin

American Falls is the first major collection of short stories from Barry Gifford, master of the dark side of the American reality. These stories range widely in style and period, from the 1950s to the present, from absurdist exercises to romantic tales, from stories about childhood innocence to novellas of murder and revenge.

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The Phantom Father
The Phantom Father

“The Phantom Father… is a book that gratifyingly kisses the past without retelling it..”
— Booklist

Barry Gifford’s father, a racketeer who ran an all-night liquor store in the 1950s, is memorialized in this unsentimental series of vignettes that capture the reckless glitz of mob-run Chicago.

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Replies to Wang Wei
Replies To Wang Wei, Poems by Barry Gifford

“Gifford never fails to surprise. These poems read like zen dominoes: no matter how shuffled, they always seem to come out right.”
— Booklist

Barry Gifford, author of the novels Wild at Heart, Night People, Perdita Durango and, most recently, Wyoming, presents us with a collection of gems, poems mostly in the Chinese manner, fashioned as a response to the work of the great poet of the T’ang dynasty, Wang Wei.

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Out of the Past
Out of the Past

“Gifford knows his noir. The essays are better than some of the films he writes about.”
— Elmore Leonard

For both the film buff and the general moviegoer a handbook that unlocks the secrets of a hundred noir movies

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“Gifford is a marvelous talent.”
         — Washington Post

“Wyoming” exists as a state of mind rather than an actual place, a place neither the boy nor his mother have ever been, an idyll where the two of them can live an untroubled life.

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