Life is far from neat. BARRY GIFFORD reflects on the chaos of it all as he ponders losers, Lynch and logging.
Words: Teddy lamieson
Reading Barry Gifford‘s new novel is rather like listening to a Billy Connolly routine. Neither man has much time for straight lines. Gifford. like Scotland‘s once- favourite comic. enjoys taking his own route when telling a story and that rarely proceeds direct from A to B.
The novel in question. The Sinaloa Story regularly cuts off the main road to explore narrative diversions and cul-de-sacs. It meanders. doubles back and jumps the tracks throughout its 2()()-odd pages. switching from Texas to Mexico. from Idaho to New Orleans and from character to character.
‘There‘s a randomness to life. that‘s my perception.‘ Gifford explains. ‘So this is how my books tend to go — one character will lead into another character and then into another character and we follow that person and we hear about characters that were developed earlier in the book and they pop up later. Or even in other novels. So it’s really my own universe.’
Sinaloa starts with the story of DelRay .\lundo. an out-of-work mechanic who is roped into running a
number on a rich pimp in Texas by Mexican prostitute Ava Vazaro. whom he meets in a drive-in whorehousc. Lhtsurprisingly. it doesn’t quite go to plan and DelRay finds himself out of his depth in a rich slice of Texan gothic full of low-lifes. losers and cracker-barrel racists.
So far. so noir. But just when you expect Gifford to tighten the noose. he lets it fray and starts to follow all the threads to their conclusion. It‘s a book with travel lust — we end up in Mexico with the revolutionary group The Countless Raindrops and trekking around Idaho and Louisiana with Cobra Box. the young African-American widow of a Vietnam vet.
‘Life isn’t neat and orderly.‘ Gifford insists. ‘And I kind of appreciate and enjoy the randomness of it. I like the fact that it‘s unpredictable and I‘m always open to it and that's how l‘ve always lived my life.‘ Read his ev and you can see what he means. Now in his early 50s. the Chicago-born writer was a songwriter. musician. truck-driver. logger and merchant seaman before he began to make a living as
'Life isn't neat and orderly . . . there’s a randomness to it, that's my perception, so this is how my books tend to go'
Barry Gifford: mystery universe
a novelist in the early l()8()s.
The best-known fruits of the subsequent years — the six Sailor and Lulu novels — have now been gathered together in one volume by [Edinburgh‘s Rebel Inc. and are available alongside his latest book. Gifford. though. will be more familiar to most of us on this side of the Atlantic for his collaboration with filmmaker David Lynch. It began with Wild At Heart and continued last year with Gifford pro‘. iding the script for Lynch's seriously unhinged Lust [fig/mu): It's a partnership that both men «rem more than happy with.
‘David likes the slice-of—lil'e. as he calls it. and dialogue that I write — it provides him with material.
and l consider him a
what I write.‘ Lynch is not his only cinematic collaborator. however. Alex de la Iglesia has just adapted Perdita
Dru-(mgr) and Gifford himself
will be behind the camera later this year to film his novel Sultans ()fAfriea.
But Gifford admits writing for Lynch is a special treat. ‘I always know that I‘m going to get a little extra bang for the buck no matter what it is I write for David. because he's going to take it to another level visually.‘
The Sinaloa Story is published by Rebel Inc at £6.99. Gifford will be appearing at the Edinburgh Filmhouse on Mon 8 Jun and the GFT on Tue 9 Jun.
wonderfulvisual translator of
The write stuff
Ken MacLeod’s science fiction has been described as ’formidably intelligent' and is loved by Iain M Banks. Yeah, but what are his thoughts on cloning and cross- breeding?
Five words to describe yourself Intense, lazy, CUHOUS, sceptical, political,
Five words to describe The Cassini Division SOClallSl, utopian, gung-ho space opera!
What’s scarier, science fiction or science fact Science fiction -- it’s on the job description. Science fact IS the hard-working miner, science fiction IS the canary it carries along, lllflllle up llS wee toes to warn of danger
Who would you clone A clone of someone would grow up a different person, so actually, it's a hit more complicated than that
Catchphrase Actually, it's a hit more complicated than that.
Book that you wish you’d written Frank Herbert's Dune
Future of the novel If it's gOIng to have a future, ll needs a bit of hybrid Vigour, cross-breeding between mainstream and genre.
Ambitions To live long and prosper, keep my family happy and write a book as good as Dune.
Fears Decrepitude, disaster, death, I hope we can all live long enough to see decrepitude fixed and death pushed back
What you do to wind down Drink, smoke, have a quiet read,
What you do to get high Drink, smoke, have a loud conversation (Brian Donaldson)
% The Cassini Diwsion is published by Orbit at [75.99. Macleod will be reading at John Smith ’5, Glasgow on Tue 9 Jun
28 May — ll Jun 1998 THE “ST 83