Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll

A complimentary advanced reader copy of this book was provided by St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!) My review was in no way influenced by this consideration.


Bathing the Lion is the very first physical advanced copy I ever requested. I was so excited for it! It sounded so…unusual? I mean, check this out:

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…

I mean, weird. But it sounded fascinating, and I had to find out what happened! And then I got totally swamped with books and it sat on my shelf for about 18 mos. Whoops.

Then, suddenly, one day I was in the right mood. I don’t read much surrealism, but I settled in with Bathing the Lion and really enjoyed it… until Carroll gave up on it. All of a sudden, we went from Jane (one of the mechanics) following a map and figuring out the colors of the bottles and the group understanding the dream to, oh, dropping the whole plot, wrapping it up with a secondary character, and basically negating that any of the development had been important at all. Um, what? Thanks for wasting my time? I ended up frustrated and irritated. Such a disappointment.

Two stars only because I enjoyed myself up until I didn’t.

2 Stars

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