The Book from the Sky
“I’m on my way back. I was one of the first they took away.” So begins Robert Kelly’s remarkable science fiction novel about a literally divided self. “I” is Billy, the book’s protagonist, a boy who is captured by a group of aliens who take him to a cave and meticulously, if seemingly by caprice, remove his “young pure smokeless lungs” and other internal organs to replace them with two gray squirrels, a live hawk, a shoe, and a variety of other bizarre objects. Billy’s body and mind are spun off into a curious twin, one whose adventures Billy is forced by his captors to watch and try to make sense of—not a simple task when he sees his doppelgänger stealing everything from him: body, name, family, his beloved Eileen. Complicating matters, and forcing Billy deeper into his ironic journey of self, is a mysterious pamphlet called “The Book from the Sky,” written by what may be yet another variation of Billy himself, Brother William. This stunningly imaginative work, echoing the late novels of Iris Murdoch and the fantasies of Robert Charles Wilson and Jonathan Stroud while remaining inimitably Kelly’s own, offers adventurous readers a “cabinet of wonders” not unlike the body of his beleaguered young hero.
—Robert Coover, author of The Public Burning
“Kelly is a poet with a religio-mystic bent, for whom the cultic vistas of the universe are routine stops... The story is toned with a vatic sense of mission, and Kelly’s poetic incongruities exert an eerie force: ‘Darling, if you want to find heaven keep looking down. The mud has much to tell you.’”
—Marx Dorrity, Chronogram Magazine
"Like certain other speculative romances (perhaps Stranger in a Strange Land, or 'The Gospel of Judas'), Kelly’s superbly eerie SciFi novel might give rise to a whole new religion—but one in which words are as real as stones."
—Peter Lamborn Wilson, author of Pirate Utopias
"Alien abduction has always been the most intimate and insidious of 'supernatural' rumors, and when, as here, a poet brings his own magic to bear on it, we begin to understand what it means: it is the dream of a reality reseeded by heaven. The reader longs to live in Kelly's book, as in a paradise restored."
—Carey Harrison, author of Freud: A Novel
“Prolific poet and novelist Robert Kelly concocts a complex and compelling story that explores the metaphysical origins of language, spirituality, and identity. The Book From the Sky is at once a confessional and a spiritual guidebook, a book that intersperses odd aphoristic affirmations with an internal journey of divorced selves who, much like the entangled quantum particles with their “spooky action at a distance,” have inextricably intertwined fates. This entrancing novel lures the reader with a science fiction story and then unravels amazing ideas that spiral outward. As this book settles in the reader’s mind, one must be content to let the ideas take on a life of their own.”
—Rain Taxi Magazine
“Literature has a long history of borrowing themes from religion and mythology, but it takes a brave and insightful author to examine current myths and convert those themes into literature. Robert Kelly uses alien abduction to examine ideas about faith, humanism, and the nature of reality in The Book from the Sky… Kelly is a fantastic writer, and he easily draws readers into this strange and philosophical book. His language is so lush and evocative, it's easy to overlook the oddness of this book's structure and just follow along… With more than 50 books of poetry and prose to his name, Kelly has honed his writing to a precise edge. Sentences are rhythmic, words are repeated for effect, but his meticulousness never seems mannered or overly stylized.”
—Hipster Book Club
“I appreciated the stream of consciousness at the beginning of the book and during some of Billy's sojourn on that other planet. The book within the book, which is a sort of book of proverbs, had interesting commentary.”
—Mostly Fiction Book Reviews