Going Down Swinging

Publisher: Vintage Canada
A remarkable debut novel and bittersweet tale of the unflinching love and devotion between a mother and daughter.Razor sharp and darkly funny Going Down Swinging chronicles two years in the life of the Hoffmans. Eilleen Hoffman has just told Danny, her con-artist lover and father of her youngest daughter Grace, to get out — for good. Once a teacher, Eilleen lived a middle-class life, but her taste in men coupled with a predilection for pills and booze has brought her down. Desperate to prevent her family from sinking deeper into poverty, Eilleen reluctantly goes on welfare. Eventually she turns to the only friends she has left, hustlers and hookers, to learn how a woman makes fast money, no investment necessary.With Eilleen on welfare and her older daughter Charlotte a teenaged runaway, child welfare authorities descend on the Hoffmans. As Eilleen trails through several attempts at drying out, the well-intentioned Children's Protection Society finally intervenes to apprehend Grace. With the threat of prolonged separation now a stark reality, Eilleen and Grace must rally to confront their demons with grit, determination and humour. Unblinkingly observed and brilliantly written, Going Down Swinging is about the powerful bond between mother and child. And with her skilful narrative interplay, Billie Livingston illustrates poignantly how the truth of our stories lies not so much in the black and white, as it does in the grey.





No one ever believes they'll sink So Low. So Low is someone else's life, someone else's man, someone else's job. Everyone imagines little rubber bands hooked at the shoulder, springing back to safety just before the life-sucking bedrock.

Now Danny's gone...
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"Going Down Swinging is one smart bomb of a tale, detonating and reconstructing one family's hell-on-wheels attempt to choose love over self-destruction. Livingston yokes her stinging, stylish wit to a luminous empathy for human frailty in this shout-out story of mothers and daughters." — Elise Levine, author of Driving Men Mad

"Livingston pulls off the difficult literary task of serving up poignancy without sentimentality in Eilleen and Grace, two characters so vivid they keep splashing in the brain long after the last page is turned." — Anne Fleming, author of the Governor General's Award nominee Pool-Hopping and Other Stories

"Going Down Swinging is a moving first book, and Livingston a compelling new voice — one that should be welcomed and watched." — The Globe and Mail

"[This] first-time novelist reveals an unflinching eye and a formidable grasp of the mysteries of the human heart." — The Vancouver Sun

"Livingston succeeds gorgeously in capturing the messiness and unresolvable ambiguities of familial love. Her lovingly drawn, half-crazy characters always transcend a caseworker's clichés." — National Post

"…intelligent and touching—Livingston resists easy sentimentality at every turn." — The Toronto Star

"Livingston's characters are scrappers. They're canny and sharp and share a dark streak of humour that comes from the love of family and the communal understanding of knowing who is the enemy." — The New Brunswick Reader

"Eilleen and Grace — from whose points of view the story is alternately told — are small fictional masterpieces." — Vancouver Courier

"An absorbing tale of growing up disadvantaged with an alcoholic mother and an absent father, the novel is no coming-of-age weeper.” — The Toronto Star

“Livingston’s book is a humane, political look at the world of hard knocks…we discover there are no happy endings, just the possibility of fresh beginnings.” — New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, March 11, 00

“Billie Livingston vividly captures the heady romance of mother-daughter love, so strengthening in its unconditional acceptance and support, and so wretchedly debilitating in its blindness.” — The Hamilton Spectator, March 18/00