The Rooster Trapped in the Reptile Room: A Barry Gifford Reader
$19.95 $14.96
  • Paperback
  • 440
  • May 2003
  • 9781583225257

The Rooster Trapped in the Reptile Room: A Barry Gifford Reader

Barry Gifford

"Everything I have to say about race and religion and politics is in the novels," declares Barry Gifford. The Rooster Trapped in the Reptile Room gathers generous portions of all of Gifford's thirteen novels and novellas. Nine, including Wild at Heart and Night People, are restored to original sequence. The broad contours of an episodic output emerge—a full-length view of the freaks and freakish incidents that populate Gifford's unique, human comedy. As Lula, the author's favorite of all his characters, reflects, "The whole world's wild at heart and weird on top."

This world is Gifford's native habitat as much as it is his creation. The Rooster Trapped in the Reptile Room includes first-person essays that mirror the circumstances of his novels. There was the time he took his young son to visit his friend William Burroughs. Or the trip he took along the chain of Mexico-US bordertowns, exploring life on the seam. In selections from The Phantom Father, a memoir, Gifford describes his nomadic boyhood as the son of a racketeer father and fashion-model mother. A new short story, "The Peterson Fire," is a tale from the life of a boy who sounds a lot like the young Gifford himself.

Gifford began as a poet, publishing for over a decade before writing his first novel in 1979. The Rooster Trapped in the Reptile Room groups seven new poems with a selection from past work. It wasn't until the 1990s that Gifford started writing for films, a pursuit represented here with a section the screenplay to David Lynch's Lost Highway. In "Fuzzy Sandwiches or There Is No Speed Limit on the Lost Highway: Reflections on David Lynch," Gifford tells the story of his several collaborations with Lynch.

About Barry Gifford

BARRY GIFFORD’s fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have been published in twenty-eight 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 awards from PEN, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Library Association, the Writers Guild of America, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. 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, and the New York Times. His film credits include Wild at Heart, Perdita Durango, Lost Highway, City of Ghosts, Ball Lightning, and The Phantom Father. Barry Gifford’s most recent books include Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels, Sad Stories of the Death of Kings, Imagining Paradise: New & Selected Poems and The Roy Stories. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information visit

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