Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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A childhood in the 1950s and ‘60s among grifters, show girls, and mob enforcers who embraced the boy and made him who he is.
 


“These stories make for one of the most important and moving American bildungsromans of all time.” William Boyle, The Southwest Review

Roy tells it the way he sees it, shuttled between Chicago to Key West and Tampa, Havana and Jackson MS, usually with his mother Kitty, often in the company of lip-sticked women and fast men. Roy is the muse of Gifford’s hardboiled style, a precocious child, watching the grown-ups try hard to save themselves, only to screw up again and again. He takes it all in, every waft of perfume and cigar smoke, every missed opportunity to do the right thing. And then there are the good things too. A fishing trip with Uncle Buck, a mother’s love, advice from Rudy, Roy’s father: “Roy means king. Be the king of your own country. Don’t depend on anyone to do your thinking for you.” The stories in The Boy Who Ran Away to Sea are together a love letter and a tribute to the childhood experiences that ground a life.

In the Author’s Note, Gifford writes,

“I have often been asked if I were interested in writing my memoirs or an autobiography. Given that the Roy stories come as close as I care to come regarding certain circumstances, I remain comfortable with their verisimilitude. They all dwell within the boundary of fiction. As I have explained elsewhere, these are stories, I made them up. Roy ages from about five years old to late adolescence. After that, with the exception of a sighting in Veracruz, I have no idea what happened to him.”

“The way Barry Gifford lets people talk articulates everything about their unfamiliar inner lives, and ours." Boston Globe

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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. His novels include Black Sun Rising / La Corazonada, Wyoming, The Sinaloa Story, Port Tropique, Memories from a Sinking Ship, Sad Stories of the Death of Kings, Landscape with Traveler, and The Up-Down. His short stories and poetry are collected in American Falls, Do the Blind Dream?, The Cuban Club, Imagining Paradise. Gifford lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Other books by Barry Gifford