Bathing The Lion by Jonathan Carroll

Neil Gaiman praises as “Brain-smooshing work. As if John Updike were to write a Philip K Dick novel.” A bathingsurreal apocalypse novel that tackles a world of domestic strife and fragile friendships.

In Jonathan Carroll’s surreal masterpiece, Bathing the Lion, five people who live in the same New England town go to sleep one night and all share the same hyper-realistic dream. Some of these people know each other; some don’t.

When they wake the next day all of them know what has happened. All five were at one time “mechanics,” a kind of cosmic repairman whose job is to keep order in the universe and clean up the messes made both by sentient beings and the utterly fearsome yet inevitable Chaos that periodically rolls through, wreaking mayhem wherever it touches down—a kind of infinitely powerful, merciless tornado. Because the job of a mechanic is grueling and exhausting, after a certain period all of them are retired and sent to different parts of the cosmos to live out their days as “civilians.” Their memories are wiped clean and new identities are created for them that fit the places they go to live out their natural lives to the end.

For the first time all retired mechanics are being brought back to duty: Chaos has a new plan, and it’s not looking good for mankind…

This book was many things – lit-fic, fantasy, sci-fi – and I found it wonderful, but could I tell you what happened?  Probably not.  This is one of those books readers may interpret in entirely different ways.

The writing was intelligent, flowed well, and a pleasure to read.  In the first sixty or so pages, the reader is introduced to the characters going about their normal lives and I enjoyed getting to know them, but wondered when the “mechanics” were going to show up.  It happened suddenly.  After that, I was never quite sure what was real and what wasn’t, but I liked the idea of learning what was happening as the characters did.  We were all clueless together.

This was the first book for me by this author and it was a different kind of read, but if you allow yourself to be led along a path through this world, a dream world, and another universe you may be like me and come out on the other side not really knowing what happened, just that it was a fantastic experience.  Take from it what you will – it’s all subjective and open to interpretation.

Bathing The Lion is scheduled for publication October 21, 2014.  This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

4 thoughts on “Bathing The Lion by Jonathan Carroll

  1. Okay this sounds excellent. From what you wrote, I have to agree with Neil Gaimain’s quote. This definitely sounds very Philip K Dick-ish. I might have to break my reading block and try to give this one a go.


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