Baby by Paula Bomer
$15.95 | Paperback
Reviews & Praise
“Reading BABY is like being attacked by a rabid dog— and feeling grateful for it. This is some of the rawest and most urgent writing I can remember encountering.”
“In 10 raw and angry stories, Bomer flays the idea of happy little families, giving readers an assortment of emasculated and discarded husbands; brooding, unfulfilled wives; and the poor children–destined for therapy–unlucky enough to bind them. Bomer’s characters, Brooklynites for the most part, having been coddled by adoring mothers, raised in upper-middle-class homes, and propelled from Ivy League colleges, now shrink from ‘the cold reality of the indifference of the universe.’ For Lara in the title story, having a baby turned into bitter disappointment once she realizes that winning the ‘ultimate contest’ really entails a life of drudgery. Bomer’s characters spew many ungracious thoughts, but these are forthright, hilarious, and honest, as with Edie, the snarly mother of two grown sons, who so evidently favors her golden Thomas over the needy Michael, ‘who was uncoordinated, who needed glasses, who clung to her as a boy too big to be clinging to his mother,’ that she exults in his unhappiness as a newly married man and father. This lacerating take on marriage and motherhood is not one to share with the Mommy and Me group.”
–Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“It takes a strong constitution to finish all of the stories in this disturbing, rebellious debut of familial moments by Artistically Declined Press co-publisher Bomer. They are certainly well-written and crisp, with desiccated prose that recalls writers like Amy Hempel and Mary Robinson. But she’s really not into happy endings. The opener, “The Mother of His Children,” exposes the damaged inner workings of a 35-going-on-50 middle manager whose sexual daydreams are spoiled by his graphic delivery-room memories of his son’s birth. “The Shitty Handshake” eavesdrops on the mindset of an alcoholic woman about to enter an affair. “I’m going to die not knowing what it means to be loved,” she says. “I’m going to die unhappy, afraid and alone. I’m going to die without having published a book.” A pair of interconnected stories, “If There Were Two Boats” and “The Second Son,” form weak bookends by examining an elderly woman’s inequitable relationships with her two sons. “A Galloping Infection” finds a husband pausing to reflect on his wife’s death and the new freedoms that come with it. Perhaps the most resonant, if no less off-putting, is the title story, which examines an Upper West Side WASP who gets everything that’s coming to her: a reluctant marriage proposal, stroller rides through Central Park and a baby who is the center of her life. At one point she imagines smashing his head against a brick wall. “The thought simultaneously energized and relaxed her. The imagining of it—she saw her face angry, imagined the swinging of her arms, imagined his little face wide with horror and his tiny, helpless head thwacking against the wall—THWACK!—and blood spraying out everywhere—the picturing of this, scene by scene, cleared her head.” Sleep tight.
“A worthy, if challenging, entry into the genre of transgressional fiction.”
“Words like ‘tough’ and ‘honest’ don’t quite do justice to the fiction of Paula Bomer. These stories bleed, yes, but that’s because they brawl. The real housewives of Bomerworld break themselves and break your heart and yet never completely lose their soulful dignity.”
–Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask
“I love that Paula Bomer writes her characters into difficult situations and does terrible things to them. These stories contain a rare emotional honesty and brutality.”
–Michael Kimball, author of Dear Everybody
“I know I’m reading something really great when I have to stop and put the book down and think for a while before I can pick it up again. This is rare. It also happened at least twice per story in Paula Bomer’s excellent collection, Baby. Buy it, read it, put it down while you admire her skill and charm and honesty, and then pick it back up and continue reading. You might want to leave a page unread, just so it won’t be completely over, at least until she publishes her next collection.”
–Mary Miller, author of Big World.
About the Author
Paula Bomer grew up in South Bend, Indiana. Her fiction has appeared in Open City, The Mississippi Review, Fiction, New York Tyrant and elsewhere. BABY is her first collection.