Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder

A novel by Travis Nichols

May 1, 2010 • 6.5 x 8 • 260 pages • 978-1-56689-241-4

A picturesque story of modern love, old flames, and the long shadow of history.

Armed only with the address on the back of an old photograph and his grandfather’s memories, a young man launches a mission with his girlfriend to reunite his grandfather, an American WWII pilot, with Luddie, the Polish woman who saved him during the war. Through the grandson’s letters to Luddie, the saga of a family with a long and storied history emerges.

Titled after the U.S. Air Force song, this hypnotic debut explores the legacy of the Greatest Generation from the perspective of Generation Y, the fallout of war through the eyes of a pacifist, and the enduring human desire for love, adventure, truth, and understanding. A tale of soldiers and saviors, of burning and bombing, of fathers and sons and brothers and lovers, this is also the story of what we find when we dare to revisit the past.

About the Author

Travis Nichols was born in Ames, Iowa. He attended the University of Georgia and the University of Massachusetts, where he earned an MFA in poetry. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Iowa (Letter Machine Editions) and See Me Improving (Copper Canyon Press), as well as two novels, Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder and The More You Ignore Me (Coffee House Press). From 2008 – 2012 he was associate editor of the Poetry Foundation’s website and editor of its blog, Harriet. He now works at Greenpeace in Washington, DC.


“A rewarding experience. [Nichols’] sentences repeat and sit inside each other as a sort of Greek chorus that resonates through the book.” Chicago Sun-Times

“Nichols pulls the readers in . . . with breathtaking immediacy. . . . Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder is both original and haunting.” Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Nichols handles beautifully the hidden meanings in old family tales heard a hundred times. . . . The novel often reads like a piece of music that is wonderfully original.” Publishers Weekly

“A dramatically off-kilter debut novel about wars and the men who fight them. . . . We see the Bombardier, an elderly Rotarian and former mayor of a small Midwestern town, rediscovering his youthful memories. His grandson’s bewilderment over what to do about the 9/11 attacks highlights the differences between then and now. There’s a lot of meaty material here.” Kirkus

“Travis Nichols locates the story in history, the pistol in epistolary. This is crushingly great, altogether original debut that reads like an incantation. I dare you to stop reading.” —Ed Park

“This is a beautiful crackpot’s history of America. Travis Nichols takes us on a godly road trip through tobacco, love, and Boom Boom, landing us profoundly still at the world’s loneliest tourist trap. It’s a curious animal version of all those ‘I was looking for’ books because here the animal (the writing) actually changes when it reaches its destination. And happily Off We Go is also a book about a man loving women: ‘A toast,’ I say finally, ‘to the mother’s side.’” —Eileen Myles