Chosen for my Roaring Twenties Literary Lollapalooza of one, celebrated in the last fortnight with me wearing a feathered flapper dress and toting a highball glass full of gin – in my mind, at least; in reality it was all sensible cardigans and warming cups of tea.
But Francis Kay did manage to transport me back to the jazz age. For all that many of these seem to have been written as mere entertainments, they’re sturdy constructions. The sheer range he made out of a construction as simple as the ‘flapper’ story, the weightlessness of the writing, the liveliness, was delicious. Some bittersweet, some cheerful, some heartbreaking, he managed to burn so bright in these early works, brighter than most ever will. Aargh, see, it’s difficult for a dolt like me to write about him without invoking the myth of the Fitzgeralds and their age. But reading these, I felt like I got more than ever just how intoxicating they would’ve been to his audience back when they were released, and what a breath of fresh air he was.