Bongs For Steve

A Memoir

Fiction - Literary
339 Pages
Reviewed on 10/26/2022
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

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 non-fiction writer and editor. 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!

I J Baker

I wasn't sure what to expect from a Readers' Favorite review, and especially as the novel is difficult to pigeonhole and offers some support for an activity that in many jurisdictions remains illegal.

Overall I was very impressed with KC Finn's assessment and also those of Foluso Falaye and Rabia Tanveer below. They all got it that the book was fiction (not withstanding the title's referring to it ironically as a memoir) and they were all familiar enough with the story to pick key themes.

Better, each found different elements of this multi-layered story to applaud. It was great to read from Finn how much she enjoyed the extensive passages of dialogue and why, that Falaye found it to be light-hearted but rich, and that Tanveer found the narrative arc so appealing and got such a kick out of the ending.

Thank you to all three of you for your thoughtful appreciations.