4 out of 5: Maria Wyeth, actress and ex-wife of a movie director, slowly falls apart after aborting the baby she conceived via an adulterous affair with a married man. During the course of her disintegration, Maria realizes that “nothing applies” in the superficial and unfeeling L.A. society in which she lives surrounded by drug-addled and amoral people.
The first three sentences of the book are revealing: “What makes Iago evil? Some people ask. I never ask.” Immediately, Dideon establishes a tone that is intelligent, acidic, and unyielding. Though the literary allusions virtually disappear after this stark opening, Dideon’s prose never lets up in what it demands from its readers. Play it as it Lays is just barely over 200 pages, but its slightness belies its strength. This scalpel of a book will leave you nursing your wounds.