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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

The Imagination of the Heart

Book Seven of the Story of Sailor and Lula

by Barry Gifford

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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. Following 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.

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“Sailor may be dead, but luckily for us, Lula lives to bear witness to the weird world with one last great gust of gorgeous plainsong via her big-hearted medium, Barry Gifford.”

“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. . . . 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.'”

blog — January 25

Three Cheers: Barry Gifford

Introducing Three Cheers: a new feature on the Seven Stories Blog. In this feature, Seven Stories authors dish on three books that helped to mold them over the course of their careers. Check out Barry Gifford's choices below!

by Barry Gifford

Grande Sertao: Veredas (Translated into English as The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by Harriet de Onis). Certainly the greatest of all Portuguese language novels, a truly transformative novel; a unique, surprising narrative that rivals Don Quixote for creativity and meaning. Written by Joao Guimaraes Rosa, Brazilian professor and diplomat.

The Adventures & Misadventures of Maqroll the Gaviereo (Translated from Spanish by Edith Grossman) by Alvaro Mutis, a Colombian raised in Belgium and Colombia and Mexico, best friend of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who called Mutis the finer writer. Marquez was correct: Mutis’s Maqroll novellas are the finest kind of literary adventures. A vastly underrated if not mostly unknown (in the English-speaking and -reading world) master of prose and poetry.

The Collected Novels of Jean Rhys Another mostly undervalued (and misinterpreted) writer. Her novels After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie and Good Morning, Midnight (quote from Emily Dickinson, I believe) are especially good. She did not waste words: taught me how to be concise and direct without sacrificing intent and meaning. Hated being taken up in 1960s and ‘70s by feminists—resented is better word. Once a mistress of Ford Madox Ford’s, she picked up on what the big guns of the ‘20s and ‘30s had to say (Hemingway, Conrad, Pound, et al) and in my opinion outdid them all—except maybe Conrad.

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BARRY GIFFORD’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published in thirty languages. His novel Night People was awarded the Premio Brancati, established by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Alberto Moravia, in Italy, and he has been the recipient of the Maxwell Perkins Award and Syndicated Fiction Awards from PEN, as well as awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Library Association, the Writers Guild of America, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. He has also been awarded the Ingmar Bergman Chair on Cinema and Theater from the National University of Mexico. His books Sailor’s Holiday and The Phantom Father were each named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times, and his book Wyoming was named a Novel of the Year by the Los Angeles Times. He has written librettos for operas by the composers Toru Takemitsu, Ichiro Nodaira, and Olga Neuwirth. Gifford’s work has appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Punch, Esquire, La Nouvelle Revue Française, El País, La Repubblica, Rolling Stone, Brick, Film Comment, El Universal, Projections, Cosmopolitan, and the New York Times. His film credits include Wild at Heart, winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Perdita Durango, Lost Highway, City of Ghosts, Ball Lightning, American Falls, and The Phantom Father. Barry Gifford’s most recent books are Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels, The Up-Down, Imagining Paradise: New and Selected Poems, ;Writers, Southern Nights, Black Sun Rising / La Corazonada,and Roy’s World: Stories 1973–2020. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information visit www.BarryGifford.net

Other books by Barry Gifford