Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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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.

Collected in  

Pride Month
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“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

blog — October 23

Happy Belated Birthday to Barry Gifford

Happy belated birthday (it was the 18th) to Barry Gifford, one of America's most enduring and inspiring storytellers—in novels from Landscape with Traveler to Wild at Heart to The Up-Down,  in pioneering oral history biographies like Jack's Book, and collections of stories and poems, constantly renewing the heart and the dark side of the American dream and the American reality.

Here's a new poem by BG, printed here by permission of the author.

Blood Moon in February

Here I am wasting time again

writing poems to keep myself company—

The Chinese masters of the T'ang dynasty

thought the same, but mostly 

they were rural government functionaries

or already collecting a pension,

out of favor with the emperor—

So they drank rice wine

and kept their opinions to themselves,

sneaking hidden meanings into poems

they knew only a very few people

would read during their lifetime—

Who cares about a barking dog

nobody sees, or what kind of bird

sings just before light—

Only in darkness do my thoughts

cohere, vagrant ghosts

passing in dreams, difficult

if not impossible to find again—

Perhaps there never was anything 

to worry about, and now know

when the dog barks or the bird sings

there aren't any thoughts

worth keeping

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The author of more than forty works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, which have been translated into over twenty-five languages, Barry Gifford writes distinctly American stories for readers around the globe. From screenplays and librettos to his acclaimed Sailor and Lula novels, Gifford’s writing is as distinctive as it is difficult to classify. Born in the Seneca Hotel on Chicago’s Near North Side, he relocated in his adolescence to New Orleans. The move proved significant: throughout his career, Gifford’s fiction—part-noir, part-picaresque, always entertaining—is born of the clash between what he has referred to as his “Northern Side” and “Southern Side.” Gifford has been recipient of awards from PEN, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Library Association, the Writers Guild of America, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. His novel Wild at Heart was adapted into the 1990 Palme d’Or-winning film of the same name. Gifford lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Other books by Barry Gifford