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Wild at Heart

(Sailor & Lula #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,162 ratings  ·  96 reviews
The heroes of Barry Gifford's world are Sailor and Lula, unconditional lovers whose dreams and adventures were David Lynch's inspiration for the award-winning movie version of this novel.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published April 3rd 1996 by Grove Press (first published November 1st 1990)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  1,162 ratings  ·  96 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
”Lula pulled Sailor over to her and kissed him soft on the mouth. ‘You move me, Sailor, you really do,’ she said. ‘You mark me the deepest.’”

 photo Wild at Heart_zpsm7zahxvm.jpg

Sailor Ripley has just stepped out of prison from serving time for a bullshit manslaughter charge. One of those convictions that reminds me of the royal shafting that Cameron Poe received in the movie Con Air(1997), which is an interesting association because Nicholas Cage plays Cameron Poe and he also plays Sailor Ripley in the movie version of Wild at
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
There are some stories that no matter how you try to spin it, it's going to be bleak. This is one of those stories. Mind you, I've never seen the film by David Lynch based on this book, so my review is based on Gifford's novel, not interpretations of the novel.

This story recounts the days Sailor and Lula spent on the road, searching for a place to begin life anew. Sailor has just recently been released from prison and is anxious to see the one woman that he not only loves, but who loves him. Lu
Dec 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: that's more'n I can say for the rest of the world
Recommended to Mariel by: kills off the mosquitos in my brain
And I just laid there and thought about how even if you love someone it isn't always possible to have it change your life.

Somewhere all the talkity talk becomes a ghost making away with their souls. If the souls here is the point of anything. The point is feral like a dog off the chain. Man, Lula and Sailor loooove to talk. They take turns in the kinds of talking and listening. The filling their insides with words made up of scenes and flesh and everything looks the same anywhere you go, since y
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Another derailment on life's railway to heaven.

I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I'm a little gone on Sailor & Luna and their doomed love affair.

I didn't see it coming, cruising through the cartoonish, hyper-bold dialogue a little bemused and at times underwhelmed. But here I am closing the book 100% charmed and missing them both.

I enjoyed the verve and humor, the Tarantino-esque dialogue, the small chapter format, the soul soundtrack, but most of all I love Luna and Sailor's big beating
Aug 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, hardboiled
I agree with Brian G (though he was discussing Wild at Heart's sequel/side-quel). This is the dick-lit version of Weetzie Bat: a road-trip catalogue of stuff men (are supposed to) like, featuring two young, dumb kids in love. I remember liking Weetzie Bat better, because at least it attempted to be something more than "Aren't tacos and cold beer and jazz the best? Aren't other combos of stuff like menthol cigarettes and gum and tattoos and car magazines SO GOOD? Isn't tough white trash and amor ...more
Nate D
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
Barry Gifford writes in a pulp style -- spare, dialogue-driven, nearly descriptionless besides a few sketched-in details of the endless dust-swept south. And yet, it's an almost actionless pulp, existential pulp constructed around the bright flames of two characters whose voices fill the story. (Actually, quote a lot action is contained within their own voices, stories. But only at that remove of those stories.) David Lynch, improving upon this template in the film version, says he was compelled ...more
Jun 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit, black-as-night
Sailor and Lula, just a couple of kids in love, setting out on a road trip to experience life together. It's something that seemed to be inevitable; from the moment they were born their life experiences formed them in to the people they are, much more so than just a bunch of traits created by an author. It's social realism American noir style. A true love affair that shares as many similarities with Daniel Woodrell as somebody like Nell Dunn. If in American Gods Neil Gaiman took an epic sprawlin ...more
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
I ate this up like candy. Better than the movie, which was pretty damn good already. Gifford is a poet with a musician's ear for dialogue. Phenomenal.
16th book for 2019.

In this short novella, Barry Gifford tells the first in a continuing series of stories of the love affair of Sailor and Lula.

The book was immortalized in film of the same name by David Lynch (Gifford also has a writing credit in Lynch's surreal Lost Highway), and while many of the best lines in the film are taken verbatim from the book, there is still much to enjoy in reading the original source material.

This is noir pulp elevated to the level of Southern beat poetry.

Ben Loory
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it
light & harmless fun with a lot of good dialogue. not as good as the movie, but no movie without it.

also pretty much worth it just for the following:

"Okay, Spark, here it is," Buddy said, putting his pen down on the counter. "My all-time top ten, in no particular order. 'Lucille' by Little Richard, 'Lonely Nights' by The Hearts, 'He's So Fine' by The Chiffons, 'Be My Baby' by The Ronettes, 'Sea of Love' by Phil Phillips, 'High Blood Pressure' by Huey 'Piano' Smith and The Clowns, 'It's Rainin''
Brent Legault
Jan 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this for the first time while working at a bookstore on Decatur Street in New Orleans. There was a scene where a character (the sleazy private eye played by Harry Dean Stanton in the film), after eating a half-dozen at Acme Oyster bar on Iberville Street, walked right by my window. That is, he walked north(ish) on Decatur Street from Iberville. In the book, not outside of it. It's of no importance to anyone and personally I detest regionalism in literature. However, it made an impression ...more
Jan 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this book solely because I love the movie and wanted to see where a director like David Lynch finds his inspiration. The movie itself is, most people would say, dated and strange to say the least. But I find the right kind of hilarity in Nicolas Cage's performance as Sailor that makes it fun to watch. Pair that with Laura Dern's weirdly sexy role as Lula and you've got one of Lynch's best works. However, his extensions of the characters and scene additions really add to the atmospheric qu ...more
Jessie Drew
Jul 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Barry Gifford’s style of writing was perfect. Highly recommend. Doesn’t take away anything from the movie.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure if I'm glad I saw the movie before reading the book. If I remember correctly, the movie came out in 1990, as did this book. David Lynch is even credited with some design concept in the inside jacket copy. The novel is so slim compared to the movie, I have to wonder if there is more to this than a short novel being made into a movie by a director taking a lot of liberties with the story.

That being said, I loved the movie. It's possible I'd rate this novel three stars had I never seen
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, re-read, 2018
This is a book I'm always picking up and reading from at random because I love Gifford's terse tough prose. Reading it through this time around I'm struck by Lula's strength. In the film, Laura Dern's histrionics serve as counterpoint to Nicholas Cage's laconic ease. But there's plenty to be anxious about as Sailor pilots their convertible into a terrible situation. Also, Johnny Farragut, the reluctant detective played by Harry Dean Stanton, is a writer and his story within the story is the long ...more
Seth Kenlon
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A unique little book that has attitude and tells a traditional love story in a non-traditional way. I read it because of the David Lynch film. I think the book is mostly better, although the ending is a lot less satisfying. But satisfying isn't always right.

This is a quick read so if you've any interest in unique storytelling, or if you've seen the movie and are curious about the source material, you should give it a go.
Apr 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love the way he writes, some of the best expressions of how odd and strange the south is, great writing.
Lula is soooo Laura Dern... 3-stars because this is pulp. But it is pulp with an existential edge, and a fun read.
Austin Gaines
Sep 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I finished Wild at Heart yesterday. It had that outstanding dim witted southern dialogue that I dig. I don't remember much about the David Lynch movie. But it looks like they changed it up a bit. And there is no Wizard of Oz witch and no hitmen. I guess Lynch got this dude to write Lost Highway but I don't remember much about that either. The author wrote 4 or so sequels to this and I actually wouldn't mind giving at least one of them a chance. I got kind of interested in the characters. It was ...more
Charles White
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
About as thin as the paper it's printed on.
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clothes Line Saga

Barry Gifford's name came up in a piece about Elmore Leonard's style of dialogue. I was intrigued. "Intrigued," by the way, is not a word you'll find in Leonard or Gifford. Gifford's best known for a series of novellas about Sailor and Lula, a pair of teenage lovers when the story starts. "Sailor and Lula" is the first. Sailor is just out of prison, after serving two years for manslaughter. Lula reunites with him, and they take off from South Carolina for parts unknown. They get
Sep 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: texana, louisiana
You'd think parole-breaking romantic rebels would know by now not to head into Texas. Of course the place is so damn big it is hard to avoid it if you're trying to get from Florida to the West Coast.

In the excursion of Sailor and Lula, the author namechecks a lot of local color details in all the towns. The scenes in New Orleans almost feel like a commerical from the tourism board.

Gifford does not hesitate to throw in a short story by one of the characters, or a letter written by one of the char
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-books
I've only ever seen short clips of the David Lynch film, so I can't comment on how the book matches or differs from it.

The short chapters build up the sense of unease that 'things can't end well', each adding a little bit more to the reader's knowledge and understanding of the characters. I notice a few reviews that mention the "southern language"; all I can say is that as a Brit, I had no problems whatsoever. I particlularly admired the treatment of the violence, when it eventually comes - it i
Al Riske
Apr 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: influences
The chapters in this novel are short vignettes--45 of them in 159 pages--that could almost stand alone. They are, for the most part, random conversations, observations, and anecdotes--young lovers telling each other stories. Each is well done and interesting in its own right. The fact that Lula's mother has hired a private detective to chase her daughter and ex-con boyfriend across the country give the book its narrative drive.
Heather Chandler
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was a crazy book and the movie was even crazier! I did like it though I would probably not recomend it now to anyone! I read this book a long time ago! I defenatly would never recomend the movie to anyone I believe it is reated R maybe not even rated I don't remember. (But sad to say I did like them)
Mar 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graemes
Same idea as other Gifford books, think I have this one as a threefer with Perdita Durango and Sinaloa. This was made into a film, but you can bypass David Lynch's self-indulgence by reading the book instead.
Jan 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2009
Gifford's got a loose style, short chapters, and a way with dialogue.

Good but slight.
Mar 12, 2009 added it
Shelves: 3-12-09-s-finds
I am going to read this. So far so good. I reached page 19. Short chapters, dialect, sex and tenderness. Nice.
Apr 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
People from the south sure have a lot to say.
Arlene Allen
Oct 23, 2010 rated it liked it
One of those books I wonder why I read.
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Barry Gifford is an American author, poet, and screenwriter known for his distinctive mix of American landscapes and film noir- and Beat Generation-influenced literary madness.

He is described by Patrick Beach as being "like if John Updike had an evil twin that grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and wrote funny..."He is best known for his series of novels about Sailor and Lula, two sex-driven,

Other books in the series

Sailor & Lula (7 books)
  • Perdita Durango
  • Sailor's Holiday
  • Sultans of Africa (Sailor & Lula, #4)
  • Consuelo's Kiss (Sailor & Lula, #5)
  • Bad Day for the Leopard Man (Sailor & Lula, #6)
  • The Imagination of the Heart: Book Seven of the Story of Sailor and Lula

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