The Boy Who Ran Away to Sea Paperback by Barry Gifford

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The Boy Who Ran Away to Sea Paperback by Barry Gifford

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Product Details

  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press (2022-03-29)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • ISBN-13: 9781644211526
  • Item Weight: 300.51 grams
  • Dimensions: 8.18 x 5.49 x 0.79 cm

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


About the Author

Barry Gifford’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published in thirty 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 the Maxwell Perkins Award and Syndicated Fiction Awards from PEN, as well as awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Library Association, the Writers Guild of America, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. He has also been awarded the Ingmar Bergman Chair on Cinema and Theater from the National University of Mexico. 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, Cosmopolitan, and the New York Times. His film credits include Wild at Heart, winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Perdita Durango, Lost Highway, City of Ghosts, Ball Lightning, American Falls, and The Phantom Father. Barry Gifford’s most recent books are Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels, The Up-Down, Imagining Paradise: New and Selected Poems, Writers, Southern Nights, Black Sun Rising/La Corazonada, and Roy’s World: Stories 1973–2020. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information visit

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