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Sad Stories of the Death of Kingsby Barry Gifford
"Fans of Gifford's popular Sailor and Lula novels will instantly recognize the style and substance of Sad Stories, a novel told through forty-two short stories in the life of a budding writer named Roy. The most obvious narrative anchor for Gifford is film noir, but there's a little Hemingway in his stride, a little Faulkner in his vision, and a definite smattering of Raymond Carver in his imagination." Christopher Matthew Jensen, Rain Taxi (Read the entire Rain Taxi review)
Synopses & Reviews
Roy is a lover of adventure movies, a budding writer, and a young man slowly coming of age without the benefit of a father. Surrounding him — whether to support him or to drag him under — is the adult world of postwar Chicago, a city haunted by violence, poverty, and the redeeming power of imagination. Here are charlatans, operators, alien abductees, schoolyard nudists, and fast girls with only months to live. At the center of it all is a boy learning to navigate the compromises, disillusionments, and regrets that come with the territory of living. Mixing memoir and fiction, the forty-one short stories in Sad Stories of the Death of Kings bring a city — and a boy's growing consciousness — to vivid, unflinching life.
"Gifford's sentimental new novel tracks scrappy, precocious Roy as he finds his way in hardscrabble 1950s Chicago's Polish ward. Roy's life is populated by a crew of wayward boys — the Viper, Magic Frank, and Crazy Lester — who all must confront violence, mental illness, and death in their cold and windy enclave. The world is not entirely gloomy; Roy's development as a writer and love for his mother are rays of light in even the novel's bleakest moments. Though Roy's adventures have the classic footloose appeal of coming-of-age adventures, its the rogue's gallery of supporting characters that are most memorable, from the Albanian lothario Cubar Shog and mobbed up Sharkface Bensky to the numerous other cutthroats in Roy's orbit. Gifford, best known for his Sailor and Lula novels (Wild at Heart; etc.), has a soft, transporting touch that makes a strong case for this being a one-sitting endeavor. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
"Barry Gifford's Sad Stories of the Death of Kings gleams like a stolen silver dollar; one boy's search for wisdom among the hustlers, criminals, and wise guys that reads as evocatively as anything out of Nelson Algren. These stories, sometimes only a page or two, riddled with sharp, subtle dialogue, all glow with the devastating, sometimes gruesome wisdom of Sherwood Anderson and Flannery O'Connor." Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned
"A master of the vignette... Mr. Gifford also has a fine ear for dialogue.... [He] gratifyingly kisses the past without entirely telling it." Jonathan Wilson, New York Times Book Review
"Gifford's great talent captures defining moments with the casual grace of anecdote. [He] makes the anecdotal monumental." Jonathan Keats, San Francisco Magazine
"Roy grows up through his encounters with the melancholic detritus of life. Like Gifford, he always finds warm hearts beating beneath the sadness." Booklist
A vivid and unflinching portrait of a fatherless adolescent boy coming of age within the violent humanity of 1960s Chicago.
About the Author
Barry Gifford is the author of more than forty published works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, which have been translated into twenty-eight languages. His novel Wild at Heart was made into a film by David Lynch, which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and his novel Perdita Durango was made into a feature film by Alex de la Iglesia.
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