About Mike Bahl

Walk dog, write, read, drink tea, watch sports, watch tv, grudgingly work

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Mike’s review

What do they drink? Is the water still potable? Seems doubtful. And I wouldn’t think of it if they weren’t eating every other paragraph. And where are they getting all this food? Where do they keep it? They only have one shopping cart.

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It took me 40+ pages before I realized not all contractions use apostrophes. It’s does cant wont doesnt dont.

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If you’re going to die anyways, why not die comfortably in the bunker? I watched the movie after reading the book and I thought this same thing then, too.

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Why the fuck you packing mustard in your cart after the apocalypse?

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My power’s been out for 4 hours; I can totally relate with this book as I read.

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This is supposed to be heartbreaking, allegedly. But I didn’t see it that way at all. I saw the dad as a dick. I don’t think he really much cared for his son, but wanted to keep him alive because he was a literal genetic part of the father.

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Plot summary: It’s after some sort of apocalypse. A man and his child walk and try not to die. They go to the ocean for God knows what reason. No one actually thinks things will be better there. They walk just to have something to do, I guess. Did I mention I found this book to be cold and aloof? Which are things I’d normally be into, but I was not here.

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One Of The Boys by Daniel Magariel

Mike’s review

I can already tell that I want a follow up set 20 years later when the boys reconnect with mom. Because it seems kinda inevitable.

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Two father-centric books (this and Number9Dream) in a row on a trip back home (where my dad no longer lives)…

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FUCK.

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I again didn’t write down plot points, so let’s see if I can do this. Two sons are caught in something of a custody battle between their parents. Though battle isn’t the right word. It seems like mom just kinda gives up. But that probably isn’t the whole story. The sons go (maybe choose) to live with their dad. So our perspective is filtered through the father’s and we have reason to believe the father is less than reliable (this is not a vague thing in the book, but would be spoilery to reveal here). They move to New Mexico or Texas, somewhere southwest. And they live their lives where there dad disappears for days on end, locked up in his room (pretty sure that detail is on the jacket, so technically no spoiler). This was a very good book. I love good books.

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So devastating that I can’t tell if it’s worse or better (more or less devastating) to be reminded of hope and how good things seemed when we go back in time in the epilogue.

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I haven’t been pulled into a book like this in forever. Maybe three hours tops to get through. Nothing left to read this trip.

Luckily the library was having a book sale in my hometown.

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I keep telling myself I’m going to put something here at least every other week and I keep fucking that up.

Cujo by Stephen King

Mike’s review

Omg. King looks so much like Joe Hill in this pic. Never saw the resemblance before.

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Was Cujo a normal name before this? No one’s surprised by the odd name. And nevermind. Briefly acknowledged.

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I would’ve made Brett tell his dad Cujo was sick, created a villain when the dad acted in his self-interest and brushed the news off so he could go to Boston. Telling the mom who does the same is so much sadder. This is all so sad.

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I wrote a note that the name was totally explained, but can’t really read my writing when I wrote where it’s from. So, yeah.

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I should really send this book to my brother. I picked this up from the library booksale in my hometown and he was definitely jealous he didn’t see it first. Going to the post office is scary though. I don’t know why I don’t like to get rid of books. I don’t need them. The point of this blog is to keep the memories here. I don’t need the book. And if I ever feel like reading one again, I can still make that happen pretty easily. Books are the only possessions I keep that I attach myself to. Why?

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I mean, plot summary I guess. A bigass dog gets rabies. People get hurt. The dog gets hurt. Everything sucks. This shit was sad. I didn’t write anything about it, but I think I remember King writing partly from Cujo’s perspective. Not like giving the dog full-on rationale and considered thought, but at least acknowledging his pain and feelings. Since this was a horrorish movie, and King is a horror writer, I expected the book to be horror. But it’s not. It’s heartwrenching and sad and fuck.

Number9Dream by David Mitchell

Mike’s review

“A book you finish reading is not the same book it was before you read it.”

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Reference to Norwegian Wood. Are both these Beatles songs? I am very bad at knowing pop culture. Did I miss a big reference? Has Mitchell translated Murakami? (I could Google this now, but don’t think I care anymore.) Do I need to read Norwegian Wood to contextualize this?

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I’m okay just riding along on the dream.

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I’m cool with an ambiguous ending, but WTF? I’ll have to look up other opinions to make some sense of this. Err, not sense, but logic/reason. I know what happened, but why? Why anything after he meets with his mother, or maybe after speaking with Ai about meeting with his mother. I think I’d have preferred to find out everything was a dream and he’d never left home. Seemed we were headed that way with flitting in and out of dreams, Wizard of Oz reference, random tsunami-based blowjobs.

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Not that this was a bad book, but it’s certainly my least favorite I’ve read by Mitchell.

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Plot summary: Eiji Miyake’s twin sister dies when they’re 11. At 20 he leaves home to find his father. Mother was a drunk. He very coincidentally finds his father, but really this is a story about reconnecting with his mother. And then some randomness? I guess I’ll look this up and see if anyone smarter than me has an opinion.

Nope, nothing. Very little about the ending at all (I didn’t spend all day looking, but I did click on at least 4 sites). I remember thinking that none of the end belonged in this book because it didn’t really have anything to do with Eiji’s journey. Maybe Mitchell and I saw Eiji’s journey as a different thing.

The Empty Chair by Bruce Wagner

Mike’s review

I don’t have this book anymore and it’s been a very long time since I’ve read it, so we’ll see how typing my notes goes here. I sent this off to a friend who I thought would enjoy its themes. Which I wish I did more often. Do I not because I don’t like what I read so much a lot of times or because I don’t trust people with my feelings and giving them a book is giving them a peek at my feelings?

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The premise must be taken from real life or Wagner is impeccably good at replicating how people ramble as they talk.

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Can’t remember the last time I took a couple days off from reading and each day thought about the book from which I was taking said break.

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And then comes scatter-brained, time-jumping second novella and I’m struggling to follow along and not anywhere near as compelled as I was in the first novella.

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How does the narrator know so much about the guru’s death (which she wasn’t there for?), but nothing about the service the guru’s apprentice gave that morning (which she was there for)? And would I let this slip past if I was more invested in the story?

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This is post-modern, right? Author Bruce –>narrator (hearer?) Bruce–>Quennie–>pages of quoted text from Kura. Is there a separation between author and narrator? I don’t know if actually, but there must be in text by definition, right? Otherwise it’s a memoir technically. Even if the written is the same as the actual, the fact that it’s marketed as novel, means there’s a separation from actuality. So, in conclusion, marketing is what makes something post-modern.

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We jump from Kura telling about trying to find The Guru to Queenie with Kura heading up the mountain with no talk between the two of them about what’s going on and this is why I never know who’s talking or when we are in this novella.

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“‘I am one who long ago forsook living in the past or future, which seem to me vastly overrated. Even the “now” is overrated!'”

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Plot summary: I remember something about hot tubs in the Marin County hills. Buddhist themes of emptiness. The search for enlightenment.

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

Mike’s review

“Wending” is a word that came as a direct result of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, I bet.

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Short stories, motherfuckers. No plot summary needed!

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Reading this alone on a bench in the Marina #whitemaleprivelege

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Tough read. Started so strong, but lost me over and over again.

That end tho.