City Lights and Seven Stories Press celebrate the publication of the paperback release of Writers by Barry Gifford, published by Seven Stories Press.
May 04, 2023 6:00pm
708 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94111 United States
Barry Gifford is joined by Julie Lindow, Peter Maravelis, Michael Ray, Anne Ray, and special musical guest Sheldon Brown
This event will take place at Canessa Gallery, 708 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94111 – It is free to the public, but seating is on a first-come, first serve basis. Although this event will not be broadcast live, an audio recording will be made and later posted on the City Lights Podcast Site.
In Writers, great American storyteller Barry Gifford paints portraits of famous writers caught in imaginary vulnerable moments in their lives. In prose that is funny, grotesque, and a touch brutal, Gifford shows these writers at their most human and exposed. Here is Ernest Hemingway drunkenly setting explosive trip wires outside his home in Cuba, and Albert Camus conversing with a young prostitute while staring at himself in the mirror of a New York City hotel room. Gifford also conjures up Martha Gellhorn, Jack Kerouac, B. Traven, John Huston, Nelson Algren, Arthur Rimbaud, Jane Bowles, Marcel Proust, Herman Melville, Charles Baudelaire, Jorge Luis Borges, Roberto Bolaño, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett.
In Gifford’s house of mirrors, we are offered a unique perspective on this group of literary greats. We see their obsessions loom large—and none larger than a shared preoccupation with mortality. And yet these stories, which are meant to be performed as plays, are also tender and thoughtful exercises in empathy. Gifford asks: What does it mean to devote oneself entirely to art? And as an artist, what defines success and failure?
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
Sheldon Brown is a composer and woodwind multi-instrumentalist. He records and performs internationally, appearing at Monterey Jazz Festival and numerous other festival around the world. He has performed at Kennedy Center, Radio City Music Hall, New Morning, Knitting Factory, SFJazz Center, Ryman Auditorium, Hollywood Bowl, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, Davies Symphony Hall, and Smithsonian Institution. He recently recorded the major work Blood of the Air, based on speech melodies of Beat-era Surrealist poet Phillip Lamantia. Brown’s work graces recordings by Omar Sosa, Bobby Weir, Taj Mahal, Marcus Shelby, Ben Goldberg, Darren Johnston, Ian Carey, Erik Jekabson, and Maria Marquez, among others. He is a member of Club Foot Orchestra, with whom he composes film and television scores, and a founding member of Electric Squeezebox Orchestra and Clarinet Thing. He teaches through the University of California and at Berkeley High School and currently tours with Bobby Weir and Omar Sosa.
Julie Lindow is a copy editor living in the Bay Area. She edited the book Left in the Dark: Portrait of San Francisco Movie Theaters. She is communications Director for SF Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Peter Maravelis is the event director at City Lights Booksellers and Publishers.
Anne Ray is a Founding Editor at American Zoetrope, a privately run American film production company, centered in San Francisco, California and founded by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas.
Michael Ray is a screenwriter whose films have been selected for the Venice, Telluride, and Toronto film festivals, among others. His most recent film, While the Women Are Sleeping, was directed by Wayne Wang, starred Beat Takeshi, and premiered at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival. He is the editor of Zoetrope All-Story since 2002.
About Canessa Gallery
For more than 45 years, Canessa Gallery has been at the center of San Francisco’s rich artistic, literary, and cultural history. Our mission is to support and showcase the work of artists who want to be artists for their lifetime. To date, more than 600 new, emerging, and established sculptors, painters, photographers, and performance and literary artists have presented their work at Canessa Gallery. The gallery is located in the landmark Canessa Building — a diminutive old-brick gem that is one of downtown San Francisco’s last links with her colorful, bohemian past. While many of the original buildings in the area did not survive the era of high-and-higher architecture, the historic Canessa Building has — and continues to glow with the light, life, and magic of artists at work.
This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit: https://citylights.com/foundation/