Bad Call (gruesome nonfiction essays) — Mike Scardino

November 20, 2019

36546634TITLE: Bad Call
AUTHOR: Mike Scardino
GENRE: Nonfiction
PAGES: 304pg
SOURCE: Library

Fueled by adrenaline and Sabrett’s hot dogs, young Mike spends his days speeding from one chaotic emergency to another. His adventures take him into the middle of incipient race riots, to the scene of a plane crash at JFK airport and into private lives all over Queens, where New Yorkers are suffering, and dying, in unimaginable ways. Learning on the job, Mike encounters all manner of freakish accidents (the man who drank Drano, the woman attacked by rats, the man who inflated like a balloon), meets countless unforgettable New York characters, falls in love, is nearly murdered, and gets an early and indelible education in the impermanence of life and the cruelty of chance.

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As far as I’m concerned, every call we get is a bad call by definition. Who calls an ambulance unless something bad has happened in the first place. From that point on, it’s simply a matter of degree.

When I was in my very early twenties, I worked for a while as part of the HR team for a hospital. My boss had worked on an ambulance for a time in his late teens/early twenties, much like Mike Scardino here, and over our lunch breaks, sometimes he’d regale me with a few gruesome tales. Don’t get me wrong — I find no comfort in the thought of the average human being suffering — but there’s something incredibly intriguing about these stories. Needless to say, when I learned this former ambulance attendant had written an entire book about his experiences, on the old TBR it went — and I’m glad it did.

Scardino’s writing style fits the stories perfectly: blunt and to the point, brimming with cynicism and deadpan, and leaving little room for flowers and poetry. It adds a flair of real authenticity as it feels truly like you’re being told this guy’s memories and experiences, not dolled-up dramatics for the sake of selling a book. Many of the stories don’t have endings at all, so you’re left wondering about a lot of these folks. In other stories, sometimes you wish you didn’t know. There are a few emotional ones, but mostly it’s a bit awe-inspiring.

Needless to say, I recommend this for people whose stomachs don’t turn easily, as Scardino doesn’t shy away from the gritty details. I’m almost impossible to perturb, honestly, and there’s a story in this book that even had me gagging a little (if you’ve read it: hands held out the window and piles of blankets, that’s all I’ll say).

c o n t e n t – w a r n i n g s →

descriptions of gore, death, illness, child/baby death, abuse, assault, rape, racism, misogyny, mental illness, body-shaming (very brief)

d i v e r s i t y →

t l ; d r →

If you’re a morbidly curious soul with a difficult-to-upset stomach, I really recommend picking this up.
Yes — to certain readers



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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. I’m glad you liked this so much! 🙂 It’s already on my TBR, I’m morbidly excited to read it.

      1. I hope you like it! Heads up, one chapter is about a plus-size patient and it does have some body-shaming, so that was a little… sigh. But it’s pretty short-lived and I don’t think the author gets particularly “mean” about it, he’s more just relaying how shocking the entire situation was.

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