bombyonder

“In Bombyonder, Reb Livingston reinvents fictional character & narrative pattern”

John Parras review Bombyonder in Rain Taxi:

In contrast, many contemporary responses to the so-called death of the novel take the form of what is sometimes called the non-novel—works by writers such as Teju Cole, Ben Lerner, Rachel Cusk, and the aforementioned Knausgaard and Heti. In most cases these autobiographical novels attempt to solve our dissatisfaction with the stilted fabrications of plot and character by steering fiction toward the realm of memoir. But Reb Livingston’s extraordinary novel, Bombyonder, shows us how timid such a solution is. One doesn’t heal the ailing novel form by disguising fiction as memoir, Bombyonder forcefully suggests; one heals the novel by fearlessly transfiguring long fiction. Rather than assuaging supposed readerly anxieties, Livingston reinvents fictional character and narrative pattern while embracing the perplexities of prevarication, the imaginative value of absurdity, and the delights of wild artifice.

Despite its avant-gardism, Bombyonder bears an uncanny resemblance to Gillian Flynn’s runaway bestseller, Gone Girl. Both books feature a female protagonist trying to find herself, suppressing some aspect of her personality, and navigating complicated amorous relations with men. Both books incorporate diary entries as a central device, reflect on the questionable influence of parents on their children, and involve complex mysteries of disappearance and reappearance. And both books contemplate murder, though in radically different manners. While Gone Girl adheres to the conventions of the realistic thriller, Bombyonder teeters on the opposite end of the fictional spectrum: it is innovative in the extreme.

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announcements

My novel, Bombyonder, is available for preorder from Coconut Books along with new titles from Carina Finn, Danielle Pafunda, Alexis Pope, Tyler Gobble and Arielle Greenberg.

Or better yet, subscribe to the 2014 Fall/Winter catalog and get them all for just $65. That’s over a 30% savings.

* * * 

In anticipation of BombyonderGod Damsel is a FREE ebook for the rest of SeptemberUse Code: RS84V to read it on your Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, iPad, on your laptop, in your web browser. How ever you want.

Excerpt: 'Bombyonder' by Reb Livingston at Berfrois

What if everyone in my neighborhood stood on our roofs and shot down planes, behaving like goddamn sky terrorists, instigating the army to drop this kind of bomb on top of us? What exactly would happen to us as we stood shooting our guns on our roofs?

A nearby soldier claimed that the bomb would have to fall directly on top of someone to kill him. He claimed to have seen it happen in battle to a good man who deserved better and god bless his soul. But my father claimed that even if the bomb directly hit a person, the event would not kill, only change him. Now this change might be that the person wished to die and if the following chain of events led to death, well that’s another thing entirely and it would be unfair to pin such results on a perfectly kind bomb.

Father demonstrated by putting a bomb in a test dummy’s mouth. The explosion was small and didn’t leave a mark. It was all about smoke and invisibility, ripples and awe, shock and animals, cause and results freed from responsibility. That dummy’s turds would be linked by tinsel, like paper doll cutouts. That dummy wasn’t a dummy any longer. That dummy changed into something else entirely. Something worth mentioning.

What a nice bomb.

“Not nice, there’s nothing NICE about this bomb or any bomb for that matter. This is a KIND bomb. There’s a difference. Nice is how one behaves to contribute towards their outward appearance. People try to seem nice. Nice is a con. Being kind comes from within. Kindness has a humanity to it. There’s no point in building a bomb if you don’t account for what it does to humanity. The philanthropy becomes the legacy which is always about the humanity, the architecture, structure, the blueprints of society.”

So what does the bomb do, Daddy? What does the bomb tear apart? What does the bomb change? What good is change without awareness or control, Daddy? What kind of kindness can a bomb bring?

Daddy?

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Rebecca Loudon on Bombyonder

“I loved you against all odds and algorithms.”
~Bombyonder, Reb Livingston

In Bombyonder (Bitter Cherry Books), Reb Livingston is not afraid to name the monsters that crowd and clog our neural pathways. Bombyonder is a book devoted to language, to deconstructing the 21st Century dream, a pink page-a-day diary that leaks secrets and secretions, the saddest animal, the flattened science of the flesh. Bombyonder is a holy scream into the blasted slag heap. It is love and love’s conjoined twin, hate, in no uncertain terms. It’s a terror, a stupid white wedding, a stand up comic that barks like a seal, a black Bakelite telephone ringing and ringing in the deep night when you think you are safe. Livingston’s language tangles, weaves, dances and involves itself in deep play. There is discomfort this book. It is not a lullaby or a watercolor heron flying into the night. Livingston upturns every rock in the tide pool and she doesn’t pull her punches. I found myself holding my breath as I read. Bombyonder shoots out of the most tender cannon you could possibly imagine. Be careful when you read it. You will become splendid. You will bleed.

Rebecca Loudon 

"one of literature’s most unreliable narrators: a murderous, narcissistic, yet oddly appealing young woman on a quest through the bombed-out wreckage of her own psyche"

Brent Terry reviews Bombyonder at Cleaver Magazine:


Welcome to the crater. Keep your head down, your eyes open, and try not to lose your lunch…or your mind. Your guide on this journey is one of literature’s most unreliable narrators: a murderous, narcissistic, yet oddly appealing young woman on a quest through the bombed-out wreckage of her own psyche, in search of a past she can hang her hat on, a future that tells the truth, the real nature of her bomb-maker father’s legacy, and a little birdy that might make everything turn out okay.
Reb Livingston’s literary forbears are legion. In this compellingly daft, lyrical, and mind-expanding novel we find traces of Sophocles, Lewis Carrol, Vonnegut, the Nabokov of Pale Fire, Hunter S. Thompson, Gertrude Stein, and Shelley—both of them—all run through the cerebral cortex of Tim Burton, put in a pill and swallowed whole by Livingston, the effect of which is an acid-trip of a novel that requires every bit of guile and courage a reader can muster. Livingston is best known as a poet, (with two critically acclaimed books and a Best American Poetry appearance to her credit) and her poetic sensibilities guide this book: not magical realism, but hyper-realism smashed to bits and reassembled, reanimated, and turned loose among the unsuspecting villagers. 

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“Livingston’s acuity with her materials will carry us from one page to the next, no matter how bizarre or frightening. Every page is soaked in wit.”

Marlon Fick on Bombyonder:


While I personally did not like it when writers or reviews compared me to other writers in order to orient a reader, I’m compelled to commit the same sin here: Livingston’s intensity reminds me of the final thirty page paragraph in Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable—also a nameless narrator. Her imagination is on a par with Madeleine L’Engle, Gertrude Stein, and Lewis Carroll. Page 131: “We were away for a song vacationing in a hamper built to confuse until ferrets weaseled their way between the sheets.” These are the sort of “speech acts” one might associate with that ambiguous line between sleeping and waking. Since the entire novel follows the same—albeit strange—logic, it works. Neither The Mad Hatter nor I have any trouble understanding Livingston logic because we’ve accepted the groundlessness of the ground it’s built on—to paraphrase Martin Heidegger. I hope that Livingston receives the attention she so rightly deserves. I hope this novel is reviewed by my betters. I hope the world stops dropping real bombs and starts dropping Livingston bombs instead. 


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“this intuitive and lingering book will never worm its way out of anyone who dares to pick it up“

Marie Curran at The Collagist Reviews Bombyonder:

Beyond logic and linear thinking, manners and order, humor and horror, there is Bombyonder. Not exactly a physical location, but more than a passing thought, Bombyonder echoes poetry of mythic proportions. It smells of decaying flesh, drips with bodily fluids, and brims with the anger of a Medusa. It is a subconscious space of both apocalyptic absurdity and astonishing lucidity, where zombie sex jokes can morph into profound commentaries on social media, and vague memories hilariously allude to Ancient Greek literary characters. Poet Reb Livingston’s debut novel, appropriately titled Bombyonder, explores this confusing realm in lyrical prose that, while often overwhelming and disgusting, is searing and unforgettable.


Bombyonder is a disjointed tale made up of fragments: diary entries, memories, text messages, letters, forums from the future, and other indirect narrative forms. The book, however, opens as legend—like so many myths, a passionate patricide leads to an impossible quest—and it is important to remember this classic grounding because as the story continues, it dives into sensuous, often outrageous obscurity.

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Excerpt: 'Bombyonder' by Reb Livingston at Berfrois

What if everyone in my neighborhood stood on our roofs and shot down planes, behaving like goddamn sky terrorists, instigating the army to drop this kind of bomb on top of us? What exactly would happen to us as we stood shooting our guns on our roofs?

A nearby soldier claimed that the bomb would have to fall directly on top of someone to kill him. He claimed to have seen it happen in battle to a good man who deserved better and god bless his soul. But my father claimed that even if the bomb directly hit a person, the event would not kill, only change him. Now this change might be that the person wished to die and if the following chain of events led to death, well that’s another thing entirely and it would be unfair to pin such results on a perfectly kind bomb.

Father demonstrated by putting a bomb in a test dummy’s mouth. The explosion was small and didn’t leave a mark. It was all about smoke and invisibility, ripples and awe, shock and animals, cause and results freed from responsibility. That dummy’s turds would be linked by tinsel, like paper doll cutouts. That dummy wasn’t a dummy any longer. That dummy changed into something else entirely. Something worth mentioning.

What a nice bomb.

“Not nice, there’s nothing NICE about this bomb or any bomb for that matter. This is a KIND bomb. There’s a difference. Nice is how one behaves to contribute towards their outward appearance. People try to seem nice. Nice is a con. Being kind comes from within. Kindness has a humanity to it. There’s no point in building a bomb if you don’t account for what it does to humanity. The philanthropy becomes the legacy which is always about the humanity, the architecture, structure, the blueprints of society.”

So what does the bomb do, Daddy? What does the bomb tear apart? What does the bomb change? What good is change without awareness or control, Daddy? What kind of kindness can a bomb bring?

Daddy?

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SPD Recommends Bombyonder

Small Press Distribution recommends Bombyonder along with some other great books, like After-Cave by Michelle Detorie, Ending in Planes by Ruth Ellen Kocher and Bribery by Steven Zultan among others. 

Check out the whole list here.

If you want to support small press publishing, ordering directly from SPD is by far preferable to ordering from other retail outlets (Amazon, B&N, etc.). Retail outlets take a substantial cut and often the presses clear only pennies from these sales. I know I’ve banged this drum before, but it’s worth repeating.
Bombyonder is Galatea Resurrects' Book Prize Selection

Galatea Resurrects (GR) is pleased to announce a Book Prize Selection as part of its attempts to bring attention to wonderful poetry projects or projects by poets.  To be named a Book Prize Selection means GR will provide complimentary copies of the selected book to its reviewers.  For the inaugural selection which is offered to reviewers of GR #24, we have selected BOMBYONDER by Reb Livingston!


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Is it “oh wee oh” or “oh ee oh” or something else?

Eileen Tabios Reviews Bombyonder in GALATEA RESURRECTS #23
The latest issue of GALATEA RESURRECTS is out with 69 new reviews including one by Eileen Tabios for Bombyonder where she engages and grapples with the ever present question: what genre is it?

I want to say: the above excerpt (like the rest of the book) strikes me as the kind of stuff that can be written by someone who doesn’t suffer fools well.  But that’s just me having fun.  What I should note is that my focus in genre stems from hearing stuff about the work’s genre—what is it?—prior to its release and before I came to read it.  One of the blurbers, Lindsay Hill, even says it is “its own genre.”  But actually, I easily recognize a genre for this book.  It’s the howl

I sense the howl because one of the book’s biggest strengths is voice (yep, voice the old-fashioned way).  The strength of the voice is not that it’s a howl but that it stays strong and consistent from beginning to end—indeed, it’s not just consistent but ratchets up in intensity as one goes deeper into the book.  The author was “on”—in that space of the author being the pen rather than the one wielding the pen for words that alchemized their own urgency for existence—as she wrote out this project—but she was on for an entire 343 pages and that’s impressive. 

Howl.  Wilderness.   More actually, wild.

My chapbook, The Fallacy Carriers of Bombyonder, is part of The Chapbook, No. 3 (edited by Alan May). It’s kind of a sampler of my novel, Bombyonder, which hopefully will come out later this year.

No. 3 includes fiction, poetry, screenplays, and art. Other works included are Errol, Inland by Susannah Felts, Body by Corey Mesler, Algunos Mirrors by John M. Bennett, and Six Screenplays on the Nature of Collective Experience by Steven Wingate. Artwork by Volodymyr Bilyk.

It’s available both in print and free online.