Barry Gifford

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Barry Gifford
Barry Gifford.jpg
Gifford in 2006
Born (1946-10-18) October 18, 1946 (age 70)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Occupation Author
Nationality American

Barry Gifford (born October 18, 1946)[1] is an American author, poet, and screenwriter known for his distinctive mix of American landscapes and film noir- and Beat Generation-influenced literary madness.

Gifford is best known for his series of novels about Sailor and Lula, two sex-driven, star-crossed protagonists on the road. The first of the series, Wild at Heart, was adapted by director David Lynch for the 1990 film of the same title. Gifford went on to write the screenplay for Lost Highway with Lynch. Perdita Durango was adapted into film by Alex de la Iglesia. Gifford also writes non-fiction.

Life and career[edit]

Gifford was born in a Chicago hotel room in 1946.[1] His father was Jewish and his mother was of Irish Catholic background.[2] Gifford's father was in organized crime, and he spent his childhood largely in Chicago and New Orleans living in hotels. After college he joined the Air Force Reserves. After a short stint pursuing a possible career in baseball,[3] Gifford focused on writing, both as a journalist and a poet.

Gifford's fourth novel, Wild at Heart: The Story of Sailor and Lula, caught the eye of director David Lynch, who adapted it into the screenplay and movie Wild at Heart. The movie won the Palme d'Or, the highest honor, at the Cannes Film Festival in 1990. The success of this film boosted interest in Gifford's novels.



  • The Blood of the Parade (1967)
  • Coyote Tantras (1973)
  • Persimmons: Poems for Paintings (1976)
  • The Boy You Have Always Loved (1976)
  • A Quinzaine in Return for a Portrait of Mary Sun (1977)
  • Lives of the French Impressionist Painters (1978)
  • Horse Hauling Timber out of Hokkaido Forest (1979)
  • Beautiful Phantoms: Selected Poems 1968–1980 (1981)
  • Giotto's Circle (1987)
  • Ghosts No Horse Can Carry: Collected Poems 1967–1987 (1989)
  • Flaubert at Key West (1994)
  • Replies to Wang Wei
  • Imagining Paradise: New and Selected Poems (2012)

Essays and short stories[edit]

  • A Boy's Novel (1973)
  • Kerouac's Town, photographs by Marshall Clements (1973)
  • Francis Goes to the Seashore (1982)
  • The Devil Thumbs a Ride and Other Unforgettable Films (1988)
  • New Mysteries of Paris (1991)
  • Night People (1992)
  • American Falls: The Collected Short Stories
  • Do the Blind Dream? (2005)
  • The Roy Stories (2013)


  • Jack's Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac, with Lawrence Lee (1978)
  • Saroyan: A Biography, with Lawrence Lee (1984)
  • Day at the Races: The Education of a Racetracker
  • Fester's Feast"
  • The Devil Thumbs a Ride & Other Unforgettable Films
  • The Neighborhood of Baseball: A Personal History of the Chicago Cubs
  • Really the Blues (introduction)
  • The Phantom Father: A Memoir
  • Out of the Past: Adventures in Film Noir

Novels and novellas[edit]

  • Landscape With Traveler: The Pillow Book of Francis Reeves (1980)
  • Port Tropique (1980)
  • Unfortunate Woman (1983)
  • Wild at Heart: The Story of Sailor and Lula (1990) – Part 1 in the Sailor and Lula series
  • Sailor's Holiday: The Wild Life of Sailor and Lula (1991) – Part 2 in the Sailor and Lula series
  • 59° and Raining: The Story of Perdita Durango (1992) – Part 3 in the Sailor and Lula series
  • A Good Man to Know: A Semi-Documentary Fictional Memoir (1992)
  • Arise and Walk (1995)
  • Baby Cat-Face (1995) – Sailor and Lula make a brief appearance
  • Sultans of Africa – Part 4 in the Sailor and Lula series
  • Consuelo's Kiss – Part 5 in the Sailor and Lula series
  • The Sinaloa Story (1998)
  • Wyoming (2000)
  • Bad Day for the Leopard Man – Part 6 in the Sailor and Lula series
  • The Stars Above Veracruz (2006)
  • Imagination of the Heart (2007) – Part 7 in the Sailor and Lula series
  • Memories from a Sinking Ship (2007)
  • Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels (2010)
  • Sad Stories of the Death of Kings (2010)

Graphic novels[edit]

  • Perdita Durango (1995)

Other works[edit]

  • Read 'em and Weep
  • Back in America
  • Bordertown (2002)
  • My Last Martini
  • The Rooster Trapped in the Reptile Room: A Barry Gifford Reader
  • Rosa Blanca



  1. ^ a b "Guide to the Barry Gifford Papers, ca. 1970 -1997 [at Stanford University]" (PDF). Online Archive of California (OAC). c. 1998. Retrieved June 7, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 2, 2010. Retrieved September 30, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Barry Gifford's Long Road With Sailor & Lula". Retrieved 22 June 2016. 

External links[edit]