The Up-Down

Barry Gifford. Seven Stories, $23.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-60980-577-7
First introduced in Gifford's Wild at Heart, Sailor Ripley and his wife, Lula, have starred in seven novels, and though both characters are now dead, their story lives on in the author's latest, a quick yet effective tale centered around their son, Pace. Parentless at age fifty-eight, Pace leaves his home in New Orleans to seek out the "up-down"—a sort of spiritual, inner centering. He travels to Chicago, Wisconsin, and Wyoming in his pursuits—which come to a sudden halt after he nearly dies from a dangerous fall—before finally taking up residence on an inherited property in North Carolina. Here, he begins to write the story of his parents, as well as his own memoir, in hopes of crafting an account of salvation for lost souls to read (while simultaneously introducing a metafictional layer to Gifford's multi-volume epic). As the years slip by and he slowly inches toward death, Pace engages in romantic trysts, acts of violence, and moments of redemption. Fans of Gifford's earlier work will surely enjoy this final trip with familiar characters, but the novel is equally successful for those unfamiliar with Sailor and Lula's history, for the author works wonders filling in the gaps on past events throughout. A rambling victory. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/12/2015
Release date: 01/13/2015
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-60980-714-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5318-2235-4
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