American Falls: The Collected Short Stories

Overview

American Falls is the first major collection of short stories from Barry Gifford, master of the dark side of the American reality. These stories range widely in style and period, from the 1950s to the present, from absurdist exercises to romantic tales, from stories about childhood innocence to novellas of murder and revenge.
In the title story, a Japanese-American motel operator chooses not give up a total stranger, a black man wanted for murder, when the police come searching ...
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American Falls: The Collected Short Stories

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Overview

American Falls is the first major collection of short stories from Barry Gifford, master of the dark side of the American reality. These stories range widely in style and period, from the 1950s to the present, from absurdist exercises to romantic tales, from stories about childhood innocence to novellas of murder and revenge.
In the title story, a Japanese-American motel operator chooses not give up a total stranger, a black man wanted for murder, when the police come searching for him. In "Room 584, The Starr Hotel," a man rants his outrage at an amorous couple in the room next door before he himself is arrested for having committed multiple murders. "The Unspoken" recounts the confessions of a man without a mouth who tells about the woman who loved him. And in this collection’s longest fiction, a novella called "The Lonely and the Lost," a small town’s talented and colorful inhabitants solve their problems as best they can until it comes time for the devil to reap what they have sown.
Dark and light intermix in masterful chiaroscuro, dark becoming light, light revealing sinister or brooding complexity. No simple endings, only happy beginnings.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The prolific noir-ist (Wyoming, 2000, etc.) spits out his first "major" story collection. Although the settings stretch from Idaho or Havana on to the dangerous anonymity of Anytown USA, the themes are remarkably similar without getting monotonous-usually. The title story is a simple piece of work about a Japanese family, running a motel in Idaho in the 1960s, who are surprised to see a black man check in. It's an unusual point of view for Gifford-a 13-year-old girl-but one he pulls off well. In "The Old Days," an aged gangster goes to Havana to look halfheartedly for his old love and the son they had together. As he drinks in a sidewalk cafe, a palpable sense of toughened nostalgia wafts through the pages. More true to Giffordian form are pieces like "The Big Love of Cherry Layne." Good pulpy fun, it's a daytime talk show-esque sliver about a babysitter who falls in love with her charge, eight years her junior. When he's barely a teenager, Cherry seduces him. It all ends with a runaway, a car, the police, a gun and a newspaper clipping. The volume climaxes with the novella "The Lost and the Lonely." Dedicated "to the memories of Douglas Sirk and James Ross," it's another ode to fast-living, classic cars, and crime melodrama. There's a club called The Pharaoh's Flame, a couple who go by the names of Kiss and Torch, and lines like "You always was hot shit around here, Torch. But bein' a high school football stud don't go very far in the real world, does it?" The ghosts of Gifford's muses, Sailor and Lula, and their fiery dialogue are everywhere, even though the two are nowhere to be seen. Sporadic enjoyment is to be had, but too many of the sketches seem like back-file scrapings andunfinished outlines for solid power. Gifford provides some ecstatic highs and lows, but little remains afterward. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583225738
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2003
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,012,400
  • Product dimensions: 5.83 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Gifford
The author of more than forty published works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, which have been translated into twenty-eight languages, BARRY GIFFORD began as a poet and musician. His most recent prose works are Sailor & Lula: The Complete NovelsSad Stories of the Death of Kings, and Memories from a Sinking Ship: A Novel. His most recent poetry collection is Imagining Paradise: New and Selected Poems (2012). Gifford lives in the San Francisco area and maintains a website at www.barrygifford.com.
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Table of Contents

"I Wish I'd Made it Up": A Note to the Reader 9
American Falls 13
Wrap It Up 29
A Fair Price 31
My Last Martini 43
Cat Women of Rome 51
Romantica 57
The Old Days 65
The Tunisian Notebook 73
The Unspoken (Il Nondetto) 95
Only You 103
Vendetta 107
New Mysteries of Paris 109
Room 584, The Starr Hotel 121
Two Border Stories 127
The Big Love of Cherry Layne 131
A Really Happy Man 141
The Brief Confession of an Unrepentant Erotic 145
The Yellow Palace 151
For This, We Give Thanks 165
The Lost Christmas 169
The Winner 173
The Lonely and the Lost 179
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