Review: Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll

Bathing the LionIn 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…


You know that feeling you have when you read something, finish it, and then have no idea what you’ve just read? I have that feeling after reading Bathing the Lion, except tenfold.

Bathing the Lion wasn’t necessarily an unreadable story. There were parts I thoroughly enjoyed, but… I just… I don’t understand what I’ve read. Bathing the Lion is a mind-trip.

There are snippets of comprehension, there are subjects touched on that I hazard to guess are running commentaries on human emotions, but that doesn’t mean I understand the story any better. Recently I’ve read it’s not exactly a good idea to begin with Bathing the Lion when first reading anything by Jonathan Carroll.

I’ve never read anything by the author before now. This may be why I have struggled with this story.

I did enjoy some of the characters. Character emotion and development was done really well. I loved Kaspar and D Train’s story arc. I want a D Train. I feel like he would be a safe dog to live with my bunny. If only D Train was real. The adorableness!

The concept is a fantastic one and I would love to be able to read it in something with more structure. Not that there wasn’t any structure of sorts. It wasn’t a stream of consciousness at all, it’s just… I don’t… I can’t put it into words.

Bathing the Lion is the literature world’s version of Inception. You’re left wondering what happened and if anything, what you suspect occurred, actually happened.

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