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The Religious Affiliation of Poet, Writer
Barry Gifford

From: Jordan Elgrably, "The Dream Factory: Oliver Stone and Barry Gifford Converse on the Production of Art in a Mass Market Culture" (interview) in Matador, Winter 1995 (http://www.jordanelgrably.com/stonegifford.html; viewed 1 July 2005):
And, when we take a closer look, we find that the two [filmmaker Oliver Stone and author Barry Gifford] have even more in common: Born in New York City in September 1946, to a Jewish father and French Catholic mother, Oliver Stone early on proved himself a staunch individualist... Born in Chicago in October 1946, to a Jewish father and Irish Catholic mother, Barry Gifford grew up on a steady diet of film noir and pulp fiction...

GIFFORD: ...Starting in 1988, I began writing out the Southern side of my life. I never had before. I believe that you really are pretty much formed by the time you're 12 or 13 years old. Now a lot of what I write about in these books is the fundamentalism of the Deep South. [Gifford spent much of his early life living and traveling through the southern states of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri.] As a child I was fascinated by the theatricality, the arrogance of the Catholic Church. They said this is it, we've got it here, you've got to get [salvation] here. Then you had the Bible-thumping Baptists. I'm horrified by this use of religion. I think everything disastrous that's happened in the history of the world has been in the name of one God or another. You think the Catholic church is benevolent? The hell with the Catholic church--they're business people. When they close down churches in poor parishes all over the United States, because they're not bringing in enough money, because the white people have moved out of the neighborhood, and yet there are people there who've been going to the same church for 30, 40 years--they don't give a damn about those people. It's happening in San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, all over the country.

Churches are businesses. They do what they do as long as it's in their interest. Fellini made his films about it. That's nothing new. More recently there's been this reversion to fundamentalism. People are getting more and more desperate. I'm not, by the way, denying the existence of God. I'm just talking about any institutionalized religion--any institutions, period. I was never into joining. I'm not a joiner, I'm not part of any group. There's no generation around me--and that's another difficult thing in terms of marketing. Where would Jack Kerouac be without Allen Ginsberg and his continual promotion of the Beat Generation over the last forty years? I mean, there's strength in numbers, in the group. Back when Lawrence Lee and I were doing the research for "Jack's Book" [a biography of Kerouac], there were writers we interviewed who did not want to be associated with the Beat Generation. They didn't want to be associated with the word "Beat", they wanted to be taken on their own terms. But now, for some of them, it's become their only claim to fame. They cling to it with the scraping of their fingernails, they do everything but tattoo the word "Beat" on their foreheads.

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Webpage created 1 July 2005. Last modified 1 July 2005.
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