Bongs For Steve

A Memoir

Fiction - Literary
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 10/26/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I.J. Baker developed his lyrical prose style when composing short fiction in his early 20s, and refined it over 25 years as a writer and editor on magazines and newspapers. An early fascination with philosophical methods led to his receiving a PhD in ethics in 2008. His multi-layered novel Bongs For Steve was in development for 12 years from 2010. A sequel is in draft, under the working title Bongs And Money.

 Dr Baker grew up in Melbourne and has lived and worked in the Australian state capitals Sydney and Perth, returning to Melbourne in 2015.  He has four brothers and two adult daughters. His all-time favourite movie is Babette's Feast, based on the short story by Karen Blixen, in which the grim senior members of an ascetic community agree to consume from politeness a scandalously fine gift. He has enjoyed a lifelong enthusiasm for motorcycling, and he maintains an interest in the social benefits of cannabis. Literary influences include Dostoyevsky, Hemingway, Lawrence Durrell, Bukowski, and Updike.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Bongs For Steve: A Memoir is a work of fiction in the literary and psychological subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author I. J. Baker. In this introspective novel about life, where it leads us and the choices we make for ourselves and for others, a copy editor finds himself in a crisis when he’s put on leave from his job. Disillusioned and distraught, Seamus casts his mind back over his formative years in his twenties, when he and his friends indulged in cannabis on their first steps to self-exploration and maturity.

Author I. J. Baker has crafted a well-penned dramatic work that will surprise you with its depth and poignancy the more you read into the lives of Seamus and his friends. Light-hearted and amusing in all the right places, Baker chooses specific moments to dive deeper into the psychology of what it means to find yourself trapped on a plateau in mid-life and suddenly start wondering how you got there, and it’s a message that hits home hard when it’s utilized. I particularly enjoyed the author’s command of dialogue, which brings to life all the brightest and wittiest moments of the bonds of friendship that Seamus shares, both in his past and present, and the pacing is smooth and moves along well for a character-driven literary style tale. Overall, Bongs For Steve will certainly impress readers seeking literary, introspective works and I’d recommend it to anyone who loves a nostalgic read about friendship and redefining one’s perspective on life.

Foluso Falaye

Seamus Cullen, a middle-aged copy editor, is placed on leave after being absent from work. He thinks back to his 20s and the carefree time he had with his buddies at a period in his life when they all shared a love of indiscriminate cannabis use. Young Seamus views Steve as an intrusive, dangerous lunatic. Rock-guitar rebel Roland is regarded as talented. Bob Cottleman strikes him as imposing and ambitious, while Patience Moore, better known by her high school alias Pash, appears honest and sincere. But now that he's older, he begins to view them much more clearly and differently. In I. J. Baker's Bongs For Steve: A Memoir, Seamus Cullen reflects on his carefree days with his cannabis-loving friends, their long conversations, and their dramatic and quirky relationships.

If you were high before reading Bongs For Steve, you're likely to enjoy a stronger sense of ecstasy. If not, it will provide you with a relaxed, tranquil experience. The story is filled with hilarious, insightful, and lengthy discussions covering a range of themes, including cannabis use, a deceased buddy, and the protagonist's first brush with sex. Though primarily lighthearted, simple, and pleasure-driven, I. J. Baker's novel offers a deep understanding of the characters and related subject matter that shows some of the most valuable aspects of life, such as love, friendship, work, and family. This is a must-read for readers who want to live in the moment, cannabis fans, and seniors who enjoy reminiscing about their youth. Without question, it is a book that gave me the greatest euphoric buzz.

Rabia Tanveer

Bongs For Steve: A Memoir by I. J. Baker is a psychological novel with a twist as the story follows Seamus Cullen as he learns to relive after losing his job. Seamus was no longer doing well at his job as a copy editor. Coming to the office and often being drunk was becoming a habit. When his chief sub-editor told him to take paid leave with conditions, Seamus was afraid of the change. Although he felt nothing most of the time, alcohol and drugs gave him clarity unlike any other. Would the forced break prove to be exactly what Seamus needed? Or would that be the opposite of helpful?

Hilarious at times and dark at others, Bongs for Steve is a cohesive and entertaining story of self-discovery. It is almost a coming-of-age story as readers witness Seamus coming to terms with what his life has become and how he can overcome his issues. He experiences new things, many first times, and accepts his realities. Author I. J. Baker creates an entertaining and very interesting view of a life lived for passion and pleasure. In between all of this, Baker makes sure Seamus has friends and family to fall back on. The focus on relationships and the support these provide (even when high) was the main theme of the story. The ending is so hopeful and clear that I felt a rush of satisfaction. Seamus’s growth and his confidence are a great turn, and I loved the path he takes to get there. His arc is fantastic, and I enjoyed how it drove the story forward!