Lately I’ve been taking the time to do exactly what I feel like. Walk instead of take the bus? Done. 3-hour naps before noon? Bring it on. Lie around looking at the ceiling and not remotely enhancing my mind or body? That’s what I’m talking about. And now for a book review about people who know how to waste things (including time) but do not know how to relax.
May Day, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
It has come to my attention that some people understand the word “decadent” to be a purely positive term, mostly reserved for chocolate cake. If that’s you, get your hands on some Fitzgerald, stat.
Folks, decadence isn’t just luxury. It’s both a wild party and the wreckage afterwards, it’s the rust behind the gilt. Nobody brings this concept to life better than Fitzgerald. His works, like The Great Gatsby and Tales of the Jazz Age, define the Roaring Twenties.
Like Fitzgerald’s more famous pieces, May Day captures the melancholy of people who have lost their way and how they hurtle desperately into society to seek it. It’s short but packed, tracking interactions between three former classmates and two soldiers over one intoxicated night. The booze swirls and so do the ethics. At times Fitzgerald is dryly funny, loading up characters with innocuous dialogue that doubles as incisive social commentary. But the momentum comes from lives spiraling out of control in the disorientation of post-WWI New York.
The pocket-sized volume is part of Melville House’s series devoted to showcasing novellas in minimalist bold-colored covers. It caught my queasy eye in an airport bookstore, both for the $10 pricetag and the sexy design, and proved just as sleek and sharp a read as I hoped.
The 213 in 2013 series chronicles every book I read in 2013. Each review contains exactly 213 words, because 2013 words is too long and 2013 characters is too dang short.