Title: Mays Landing
Author: J. C. Mercer
Genre: Fiction, Dark Comedy
Parkhill Mays is a third-year medical school dropout from a prestigious university who wakes up from a failed suicide attempt in Bellevue Hospital in New York City. There he meets T-Bone, a self-described “human lab rat” who takes the vulnerable Mays under his wing. Living beneath the streets of the city they make ends meet selling sperm and other body parts and as paid participants for product and pharmaceutical trials, culminating with an extended Phase III clinical trial for a new anti-depressant wonder drug. We gradually learn more about Mays’ mental illness and the reasons behind his suicide attempt as he struggles to find a place between his new underground existence and the “topside” world he left, finding love and fighting his own inner demons in his quest for peace and meaning in his life.
I have read a lot of books in my life but I have never read one like this. I cannot state strongly enough how incredibly well written this book is. The author is able to evoke emotion strongly from the read and the descriptive style is possibly the best I have ever seen outside of classic military battlefield histories.
There is something else this style brings to the forefront…a warning.
This book is not for the squeamish and should not be read while you are eating. I read it while I ate and I still regret that.
As for the book, personally, I disliked Mays from almost the first page and never warmed to him. That he eventually got his poor miserable excuse for a life back on its feet is good for him. I never cared for T-bone or any of the other cast of characters that are brought to life here.
The author presents a world few know exist. He presents it in what has been described as a ‘raw’ style. I might choose vile. It is vile in its raw descriptions. A hard read that will appeal to everyone who likes to be taken to another world and be buried in the experiences therein. Not recommended for children.
My Rating: 3.75 stars
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J.C. Mercer lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children. He has a BA from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and an MFA from Columbia University in New York. Mays Landing is his first novel.
Reviewed by: Mr. N