Review of Night People by author Barry Gifford
I discovered the book Night People in a roundabout way. I went to the movie theater for a throwback showing of David Lynch’s Lost Highway. Since I’m a huge nerd I had already purchased that movie from the Criterion Collection but hadn’t watched it on the bluray yet. So I sat down with the booklet featured in the collector’s edition and got to reading the interviews.
He co wrote Lost Highway with an author, Barry Gifford. David Lynch read his book Night People and two little words stuck out to him. Lonely in a sentence was a reference to a lost highway. He thought that little phrase was loaded with beauty and mystery and wanted to make a movie about it. Not an adaptation of the surrounding book, a movie about those two words.
So, even though this book has very little to actually do with any movies I had to pick it up. If Gifford worked with Lynch I had to discover his solo writing style.
Night People intertwines a few stories to form a bigger picture of criminals, lovers, cults, and revenge. One story starts only to be picked up by a character passing through, these tangential tales branch out in unusual ways to find new themes and motives.
We start with Big Betty and her girlfriend Cutie Early who are fresh out of prison and fully, madly in love. They love each other but they also love killing people, mostly men, and they’re going on a road trip. They fancy themselves some sort of prophets for their Lord (she/her).
…there is no such thing as an immaculate de-ception. No such thing! A woman knows what she’s doin’ when she does somethin’, same as a man.Barry Gifford – Night People
Night People contains many brands of very unusual and extremist feminism. These lesbian man murderers aren’t the only ones who may be a little confused on their mission. There is also a woman who performs illegal abortions, a female detective out for revenge, and a cult who uses feminism as a manipulation point.
Two cults, actually, led by incestuous siblings who hate each other but also… well… have incested each other. One sibling runs the Church on the One Hand and the other runs the Church on the Other Hand. The one run by the female sibling is very pro abortion, the one by the male is staunchly against it.
Although all of these characters are very interesting I never quite understood what the point of it all was. I guess sometimes a story can just be a story but it always felt like it was on the verge of making a statement. It just didn’t land for me.
I will also say that Night People is not mandatory reading for Lynch fans. It didn’t really scratch the itch I thought I had when I discovered the book. I was looking for Lynch in Gifford and that’s not fair. Clearly, he’s his own person with his own style and methods. He just happens to work with one of my favorite directors of all time.
Night People is great for discovering unique characters with very unusual names but don’t go searching for too much more between these pages.
3/5 lady lovers on the lam 👭👭👭
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