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May Day

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  867 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
"All crowds have to howl."

Although F.Scott Fitzgerald is known for the kind of subtle, polished social commentary found in his masterpiece The Great Gatsby, his little-known novella May Day is unique in that it is the most raw, directly political commentary he ever wrote, and one of the most desperate works in his oeuvre.

It is a tale of the brutalities of the American clas
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Paperback, 94 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Melville House (first published 1920)
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Tempo de Ler
Apr 18, 2016 Tempo de Ler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Em May Day saltamos de perspetiva em perspetiva, escoltando personagens com experiências de vida muito diferentes, reunidas no desorientado e eufórico ambiente do pós-guerra, no início dos anos 20. Embora encare o futuro com entusiasmo, a sociedade norte-americana está mudada, os rapazes que partiram para a guerra já não são as mesmas pessoas, a instabilidade política é agravada pelo confronto de ideias e receio pela infiltração comunista, resultando em tumulto e protesto. Os soldados procuram a ...more
Kristen
May 22, 2010 Kristen rated it liked it
An interesting read. I was easily and quickly pulled in at the beginning. It is clearly a Fitzgerald book based with his very clear and distinctive way of describing people and settings. It goes through the course of two days with a cast of people. (Almost) each chapter switches to a new character after having passed/had an interaction with a previous chapter. I enjoyed it because I don't often read novellas. The ending was much more abrupt and sadder than I had expected or anticipated. This boo ...more
Perry Whitford
Jul 05, 2016 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Silk shirts and suicide, the perfect complimentary items for an F. Scott Fitzgerald story.

May Day, 1919 was a tumultuous one for America with riots breaking out and the discovery of an anarchist plot to mail-bomb a cross-section of prominent politicians. The country was euphoric that the war was over, but while the future looked bright for some it didn't look so appealing for others.

Fitzgerald taps into the hysteria as the 'Smart Set' of Yale graduates and moneyed 'flappers' dance the night away
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Jake Leech
Dec 16, 2014 Jake Leech rated it really liked it
Look, we all know that Fitzgerald can knock out a story, so let's just assume that this is pretty well written. The blurb says that this is Fitzgerald's most overtly political story, and I buy that. What I wasn't expecting is how current it felt--reading May Day was exactly like watching old episodes of West Wing. I kept thinking, Oh, this is still an issue today! Obviously the details have changed. We have fewer socialist Rabbis yelling in the streets, for example (I think. I haven't been to Ne ...more
Aaron
Jun 06, 2015 Aaron rated it it was amazing
What can I say, F. Scott Fitzgerald is just so relaxing to read. There is something mesmerizing about his writing. The same goes for Ernest Hemingway. But both of them can just write about the most innocuous things, yet I will voraciously read it, speedily I might add, and thoroughly enjoy it. Yet after it being read, I realize I only just read about a couple guys talking about everyday things doing everyday stuff, nothing exciting. Yet Fitzgerald makes it engrossing. The flow of the conversatio ...more
Alice Lippart
A short and interesting story
Faran
Feb 02, 2016 Faran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting and relevant story, brilliantly written, in which poor people drink with their enemies and then attack their own well-wishers, and rich people prioritize champagne with breakfast over helping friends in serious trouble. I think everyone should read this. It will give you a memorable intellectual reference point for any time you take a look at society/politics.
Melville House Publishing
This beautifully packaged series of classic novellas includes the works of Anton Chekhov, Colette, Henry James, Herman Melville, and Leo Tolstoy. These collectible editions are the first single-volume publications of these classic tales, offering a closer look at this underappreciated literary form and providing a fresh take on the world's most celebrated authors.
Lisa
Jun 26, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
The first book in my self-imposed novella-a-day challenge was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1920 novel, May Day. This novel lacks a lot of the finesse that is so obvious in Gatsby, for example, but I think it’s a lot more refined and readable than, say, This Side of Paradise, which I found too apologetic and juvenile. This skinny book is about postwar despair and the conflict between the rich, moneyed classes and those who have fallen below that level of luxury. The Roaring Twenties have just begun.

The
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Mark
Feb 18, 2016 Mark rated it it was ok
Fitzgerald rather inelegantly makes his usual subtext the text here; instead of providing urgency, this actual makes Fitzgerald guilty for once of the charges that are so often brought against him, of his work being all/mostly surface and no/little depth. Here, his acute and observant providing of details feels not like a genteel mask of emotions that need to remain unspoken in polite so much as padding for the flimsy frame of a story. Ends strongly, but it's an ending that would have infinitely ...more
Normfg
Mar 07, 2014 Normfg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Browsing in my local independent bookshop I came across a little pile of books published by Melville House Publishing of Brooklyn, in their novella series. Fitzgerald is one of my top-ten writers, so I had to buy "May Day"! It appeared in 1920 and is set in New York City. Class is at the heart of the novella. The narrative is relentless; the detail precise and the characters so true that the climax of their story is devastating and emotionally draining. A very rewarding read. I've re-read it and ...more
Rebecca Timberlake
I had a hard time reading this, and it took me several days to push through. If you know me, you know how absolutely absurd that sounds. I devour F. Scott Fitzgerald. I consume him like air or water.... but don't mistake my meaning. I enjoyed this, as much as one can enjoy this particular story, but it was tough. It's a side of Fitzgerald readers don't get much- it seemed personal and, yeah, maybe a little angry. He has a brief introduction at the beginning (of my copy, at least) where he states ...more
Ian Ryan
Mar 09, 2016 Ian Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
If I wanted to introduce someone to the styles and themes of Fitzgerald without having them overwhelmed by too large a book (The Great Gatsby isn't huge by any means, but significantly larger than this bite-sized novella), I would recommend May Day. It has the same fluent, arabesque prose that Fitzgerald is known for, as well as the social commentary in regards to class identities within post-WWI America, The Jazz Age, etc. The story whirls from person to person as chapters go by, and the way Fi ...more
Bert
'Dit is geen verslag van de veranderingen van de stad maar van de veranderingen in het gevoel van deze schrijver over de stad,' schrijft Fitzgerald in het essay Mijn verdwenen stad. 'We hadden een boel meegemaakt, al hadden we een bijna theatrale onschuld behouden door de rol van geobserveerde te prefereren boven die van observator. Maar onschuld is geen doel op zich en terwijl onze geest tegen wil en dank rijper werd, begonnen we New York te zien zoals het was en probeerden er iets van te bewar ...more
Nicola Mansfield
Feb 09, 2013 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it
Reason for Reading: I've decided to try the club for 6 months and plan to read the two selections, the month following their arrival. Hence this is my January read.

I've read several of Fitzgerald's novels and short stories and find him an interesting author. This title was new for me and I looked forward to reading it. The story is explained as a sample of American class systems but I'm not sure I agree with that. Class structure doesn't really exist in America the same way it does in Britain wh
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Ben
Mar 19, 2011 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
F. Scott Fitzgerald has arrived, folks. And I don't think he has any intention of leaving. "May Day" was superb in just about every way a literary piece should be; beautiful language, clear tone and effective yet concise character development. At times, I thought it would make a good stage presentation; with the intermingling of characters who didn't always have the same level of relations with one another but were caught together in a web by hidden links. Each character presented a particular a ...more
Joe
Nov 12, 2013 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was struck as I read this story by its similarity to the writing of J.D. Salinger, and the ending to May Day only confirmed the resemblance, partiularly to Salinger's early post-war story A Perfect Day for Bananafish.
Though the different storylines in May Day run around each other in a fairly confusing fashion at first, they come together in climactic conjunction around halfway through the story. The second half of the story is pretty sparse writing, more in the style of Hemingway, Ernest, bu
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Maryjmetz
Another novella in the Melville House novella series, "May Day" is rather different from "Parnassus on Wheels." The opening couple of pages are an excellent bit of bitter fantasy:

But no one listened to their great outcry, for the throngs were far too busy--day by day, the foot-soldiers trod jauntily the highway and all exulted because the young men returning were pure and brave, sound of tooth and pink of cheek, and the young women of the land were virgins and comely both of face and of figure
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Simone
Aug 03, 2013 Simone rated it really liked it
Review initially published on my blog, Writing by Numbers, here.

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,
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Renee
Jan 30, 2010 Renee rated it liked it
Read for school. A story very representative of post-WWI, early '20s America, featuring a variety of characters including former soldiers in search of liquor, a desperate boy in need of help, a vile young girl demanding money, a flapper bouncing from boy to boy, and the completely hammered Mr. In and Mr. Out. Around 50 pages long, the story switches between perspectives, which makes it move faster than most of Fitzgerald's shorter works. There is lots of slang and each character, though only int ...more
Spencer
Apr 25, 2015 Spencer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics, novella
This is Fitzgerald's first novella and one of my favorites. There is a fairly large cast of nine whose lives are inextricably entwined on May 1, 1919, and the morning of May 2nd. There are some political nuance, as well as social commentary. I found that some of the most important characters were not honest about themselves or their motivations. Everyone is young, and only one could honestly be considered an adult. It is the perfect story to kick off what would become known as the Jazz Age.
§--
Oct 13, 2010 §-- rated it did not like it
Shelves: novella
I do not understand why this is "a masterpiece" (Bruccoli) and "Fitzgerald's first great novella." The writing style is terrible: it's snarky, sarcastic, self-conscious. Great comic writing is just the opposite: the deadpan delivery of Beckett, Cervantes, Roth, Kafka. Fitzgerald was very young when he wrote this, and it's the same annoying writing style I used on my first stories.

Starting with Section 9, it gets irredeemably pointless, the characters reveal themselves just to be words on the pa
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Gabriel
This is the first multi-focused story by Scott Fitzgerald with a bigger amount of characters than the usual; "his first great novella".
(view spoiler)
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Shelly
Jan 02, 2016 Shelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This was a quick and easy read. Fitzgerald is such a master that I feel like I'm watching a movie when I read his books. I love the novella length (and must add that the way the publishers packaged/designed these novellas is so aesthetically pleasing that I want them all) but would have gladly continued reading. Of course I'd have liked the political plot to be developed more. Great and sometimes jarring read.
Margaret Christ
Aug 04, 2016 Margaret Christ rated it it was amazing
May Day is beautifully written with an artfully sketched plot. The intermingling of the characters drove the story forward in a way that, were it a film, the entire movie would be filmed in one long take, with the camera following one person to the next seamlessly. Of course, Fitzgerald's language is not to be overlooked, and he makes despair and debt sound stunning.
Joe
Sep 21, 2009 Joe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
Surprised this one isn't talked about more. It's his most cohesive work beside Gatsby. The same elements of opulence, regret and fatalism, but in different proportions. The slight political bent and the NYC setting gives it more of a foothold in reality, too. The doomed protagonist seems a little less ephemeral than Amory Blaine, and his foils exhibit a more subtle immortality.

"Damn good looking. She's still sort of a pretty doll-you know what I mean: as if you'd touch her she'd smear." [9:]

"To
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Flurry
May 17, 2014 Flurry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Did not really understand this novella, though the undercurrent of disillusionment, fear and despair rings out very strongly in the post-WWI environment it was set in. The abrupt and tragic ending makes me rethink the issues raised and perhaps helped me better understand the two intertwined storylines.
Brian Yahn
Dec 15, 2013 Brian Yahn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
May Day had me hooked from the beginning. In a couple of pages, the story really gets going. The characters conflict with each other, and you know shit is about to get real... And fast.

The writing is great as expected. However, it's a little hard to follow at times. One character in particular has three nicknames, and because of POV changes, many times the characters are only mentioned by physical appearance. Definitely something that adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to a story--let's rem
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HRH
Aug 14, 2016 HRH rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novella based happenings in an Ohio town, but this story interweaves several plot lines in New York City. It's meshes together so well, in a style I feel like no one did until the 2000s. The characters feel like Fitzgerald's usually do - some reach, some very poor, some ex-soldiers, some beautiful, bored girls, and always, in true style, saying so much without coming out and just saying it. Fitzgerald really is a portrait artist. He doesn't tell you what to think or feel or understand, he just ...more
Mark
May 03, 2012 Mark rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fictions
"I can’t tell you what it means to me to know there’s one person left who’s interested in me."

He reached out and patted her hand, and involuntarily she drew it away.

"It’s mighty fine of you," he repeated.

"Well," she said slowly, looking him in the eye, "any one’s always glad to see an old friend — but I’m sorry to see you like this."

There was a pause while they looked at each other, and the momentary eagerness in his eyes wavered. She rose and stood looking at him, her face quite expressionless.
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Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American writer of novels and short stories, whose works have been seen as evocative of the Jazz Age, a term he himself allegedly coined. He is regarded as one of the greatest twentieth century writers. Fitzgerald was of the self-styled "Lost Generation," Americans born in the 1890s who came of age during World War I. He finished four novels, left a fifth unfini ...more
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“Love is fragile -- she was thinking -- but perhaps the pieces are saved, the things that hovered on lips, that might have been said. The new love-words, the tenderness learned, and treasured up for the next lover.” 181 likes
“They were uncertain, resentful, and somewhat ill at ease. This they hid by pretending an elaborate relief at being out of the army, and by assuring each other that military discipline should never again rule their stubborn, liberty-loving wills. Yet, as a matter of fact, they would have felt more at home in a prison than in this newfound and unquestionable freedom.” 2 likes
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