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May Day

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  546 ratings  ·  54 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...more
Paperback, 94 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Melville House (first published 1920)
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(showing 1-30 of 959)
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Kristen
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
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
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...more
Normfg
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
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
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...more
Ben
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
Fred Bubbers
In the spring of 1919, the world was recovering from the catastrophe of World War I, which had ended with an armistice in November of 1918. The Paris Peace Conference had begun in January of 1919 which would result in the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June. The economic inequities of the Gilded Age had been exacerbated by the war, but the working class soldiers, who had borne the heaviest burden, were returning home and were no longer complacent. The war had taken its toll on the social...more
Joe
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...more
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...more
S
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,...more
Renee
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
§--
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...more
Gabriel Andrei
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)...more
Joe
Sep 21, 2009 Joe rated it 5 of 5 stars
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...more
Flurry
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
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...more
Mark
"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.
...more
Barbara Bradley
Perhaps a little excessive on my taste. However, Fitzgerald paints a brilliant picture of post-war society's attempt to reconstruct its identity. His emphasis on consumption both physical and visual is very deep and effective.
Jan
This is a nice way to get acquainted with the work, the writing style, of Fitzgerald. As has been mentioned in the description, it's fairly unpolished, 'raw' material. The novella feels like a precise sketch, if I may say so. JM
Zoe
May 02, 2013 Zoe rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: novella
This book passed me by very quickly. Whilst it took me a long time to get into, I seemed to finish so quickly that it didn't quite seem like I'd had chance to get to know the characters, and the narrative seemed near non-existent. I can understand the significance of telling us a story of the rift between socialists, soldiers and college graduates, but this was just so short that I don't think a novella could do it justice. F. Scott Fitzgerald writes boldly as ever however; worth a read, especia...more
janine
This fiery little novella by F. Scott Fitzgerald, first published in 1920 (when he was around 23 or 24 years old), is about post First World War class conflict between rich college elites, returning soldiers, and idealistic communist journalists.

Though it’s a little rough around the edges and choppy in parts, I quite liked this impassioned political work. Enjoyably, F. Scott Fitz comes right out and damns consumerism and WWI politics and the American class system without any of the characteristi...more
Julia
i mean this is quite obviously the work of a much younger fitzgerald--you can sense it in a few sentences that hold a certain surprising clumsiness--but it's still gorgeous and sharp and fiery (it lacks the subtlety of, say, gatsby, or even this side of paradise, but that's the point, it's not supposed to be incredibly subtle) and there's a quiet devastation meandering throughout just under the surface that's still living, still there, after the last word. (also the book itself is beautiful and...more
Monique Wilkins
A cool short story that I can't wait to read again.
De Ongeletterde
Een mooi geschreven, maar tegelijk ook wat vreemde novelle van F. Scott Fitzgerald, gesitueerd tegenover de achtergrond van het einde van de Eerste Wereldoorlog, maar nog meer tegen de achtergrond van de klasseverschillen in New York.
Hosho
Every bit as cynical as Gatsby, though without the Romanticism -- Fitzgerald serves up another fine read. May Day is peppered with the same drunken irreverence the Lost Generation is known for, and the same stoic morality. As a writer with big ideas, the prose gets occasionally bogged down -- but the wit, and danger carry us along. It shares something of a sensibility with Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diaries -- though of course the two men are rarely mentioned in the same sentence.
Olivia
A well written novella that weaves through-and together-the lives of several characters in post WWI, New York City. Fitzgerald simply, but elegantly, gives us the histories and resulting circumstances of these people and lets us into their lives just enough to feel with them; however, their motivations and desires are questioned because much of their person remains unknown. A story that yields a sharp ending and is deserving of more attention for its stylistic devices.
Josh
Within the medium of the novella it can be difficult for the author to truly convey his or her point. Fitzgerald toed the line in this work, and while I wasn't blown away I did enjoy his writing style and relatable scenarios. I particularly enjoyed the goings on of Mr. In and Mr. Out which reminded me of my own similar outings. All in all I'd recommend this to any fan of Fitzgerald since it does not require a huge investment of time.
Court
So this book literally covers ther events of one day. One single day. From dawn to dawn. Dripping in Fitzgerald's usual sensuous detail of the protrayal of elaborate and irresponsible wealth.

It surprisingly ends in climax which left me saying "Oh! ... Well that just happened." As I closed the book.

A good book for exercise of your visual imagination.
Joel Mollman
I had only read a bit by Fitzgerald, so with the new Great Gatsby movie coming out, I decided to pick up something else by him. It was an interesting little book with some great moments, but ends very abruptly. Some great moments are found throughout the text though, and there is plenty of lovely Fitzgerald descriptions and phrases.
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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.” 163 likes
“Edith had danced herself into that tired, dreamy state habitual only with débutantes, a state equivalent to the glow of a noble soul after several long highballs.” 2 likes
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