Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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"The Romeo and Juliet of the South" are back in this new edition of the internationally best-selling Sailor and Lula novels, now including for the first time the culminating novel, The Up-Down, by American master Barry Gifford.

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“Sailor and Lula are two characters that inspire, thrill and light the imagination of the young the world over.”

“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.”

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