Gifford is best known for his series of novels about Sailor and Lula, two star-crossed protagonists on a perpetual road trip. Published in seven novels between 1990 and 2015, the Sailor and Lula series is described by professor Andrei Codrescu as written in "a great comic realist" style that explores "an unmistakably American universe [...] populated by a huge and lovable humanity propelled on a tragic river of excess energy." The first book of the series, Wild at Heart, was adapted by director David Lynch for the 1990 film of the same title. Gifford went on to write the original screenplay for Lost Highway (1997) with Lynch. Perdita Durango, the third book in the Sailor and Lula series, was adapted into a 1997 film by Alex de la Iglesia with a script co-written by Gifford.
Gifford also writes non-fiction and poetry.
Life and career
Gifford was born in a Chicago hotel room in 1946. His father was Jewish and his mother was of Irish Catholic background. Gifford's father was in organized crime, and he spent his childhood largely in Chicago and New Orleans living in hotels. After college he joined the Air Force Reserves. After a short stint pursuing a possible career in baseball, Gifford focused on writing, both as a journalist and a poet.