Mays Landing
by J. C. Mercer
Amazon Digital Services

"The return of my fantasies represented the first blips of life on my heretofore flatlined psychic and spiritual electrocardiogram."

In this intellectually engaging and verbally bombastic novel, Mercer unleashes a fevered character study of a young medical student’s physical and emotional crackup, plus his adventure-filled attempt at recovery. Writing in the first-person, he intersperses memories from the past with exploits in the present to give depth as well as speed to this account that conjures echoes of Lindsay Anderson’s groundbreaking 1973 film, O Lucky Man! In that opus, a naïve English coffee salesman acquires life-lessons that almost kill him. In Mercer’s tome, a botched suicide attempt is the beginning, not the end, of a perilous walk along the knife’s edge of existence.

After consuming copious amounts of drugs and liquor, and covering his head with a plastic bag, Mays awakes in New York’s Bellevue Hospital to find that his attempt at extinction has gone tragically awry. Having absolutely no desire to deal responsibly with the aftermath, he joins T-Bone, his ward mate, in a daring escape attempt that leads to a series of shudder-inducing experiences. It turns out that T-Bone is a homeless person skilled in the art of making hand-to-mouth money by volunteering for any and all types of medical procedures that offer recompense. The would-be doctor becomes the willing lab rat as the two embark on a scheme to avoid selling out by selling various parts of themselves. Along the way, Mays meets Audrey and love attempts to defeat despair.

Mercer’s writing is witty, intelligent, and crackles with irony. He avoids sentimentality but not sincerity. His harrowing descriptions of the homeless population’s existence below and above ground send shivers up one’s spine. The pace is fast, the characters real, the story compelling. This is a novel that commands readers’ attention and deserves as wide an audience as possible.

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