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Now that s a whole other kind of fiction Something to cherish and treasure It reads like a movie but the good kind It doesn t really have a plot instead it follows the lives of a few characters throughout the years in early 1900, through WW1 and right before the 1929 crash but you can feel it coming Written in 1925, translated in French in 1928, it still is as interesting and vibrant as it was then New York shines through all the pages Dark and light, how the richs live and how the poors d Now that s a whole other kind of fiction Something to cherish and treasure It reads like a movie but the good kind It doesn t really have a plot instead it follows the lives of a few characters throughout the years in early 1900, through WW1 and right before the 1929 crash but you can feel it coming Written in 1925, translated in French in 1928, it still is as interesting and vibrant as it was then New York shines through all the pages Dark and light, how the richs live and how the poors die How one survives and how your life becomes filled with shades of grey It s a wonderful voyage into the past and makes you think about how we live now and how not a lot has changed really How can be explained the complicated and fascinating relationship between the city and the narrator in all major Modernist works with themes focused on urbanity Think of James Joyce s Dublin, dull and suffocating, with its Evelyns forever clued on the shore they dare not leave Think of Henry Miller s Paris, with its siren song that entangles the artists to better devour them Think of Virginia Woolf s London, collecting thoughts and fates in the glimpse of a park, the rush of a street, the pas How can be explained the complicated and fascinating relationship between the city and the narrator in all major Modernist works with themes focused on urbanity Think of James Joyce s Dublin, dull and suffocating, with its Evelyns forever clued on the shore they dare not leave Think of Henry Miller s Paris, with its siren song that entangles the artists to better devour them Think of Virginia Woolf s London, collecting thoughts and fates in the glimpse of a park, the rush of a street, the passing of a tram Think of John Dos Passos s New York glowing with promises that it never keeps.For every one of them and many others, the City is muchthan a place, a conventional setting for the narrative, it is truly and fully a character, maybe the most important of all, for it determines the fate of the other characters, making them dependent, helpless, tragic Further, it has a second role, no less important to embody History, merciless History that feeds on people and events to show that only the masks change, the stage and the plot remain the same That there is no real progress, no real escape for the fly under the bell jar, only an incessant return to origins, a despondent circle motion where Dublin is forever full of minor epiphanies, London is haunted by suicide thoughts, Paris is incurably diseased and New York is a Hotel California However, where Henry Miller used the full stream of consciousness, Virginia Woolf combined it with free indirect speech and Joyce with interior monologue and objective speech, Dos Passos chooses the collage technique with a subtle care for symmetry and a flagrant indifference for timeline The cinematic quality of his narrative was often pointed out, for it is made of apparently chaotically arranged snapshots and vignettes, with interchangeable or mirrored characters that create a collective hero even when they seem to focus on a single character I often, during my lecture, felt like looking at a huge fresco swept by a restless spotlight whose conic light temporarily captures a destiny, then leaves it, takes another, to resume with the first choice at another point in time Some characters, like Helen are spotted since birth, or, like Bud, for a shorter period, while others are only shadows without names, only a color, a smile, a dress that leaves however a lasting impression on mind even though they are not followed The narrative is thus full of red herrings that appear to contradict Chekov s gun principle until the reader realizes that this is the point, really, to show the unity in diversity, the tragic condition of humankind, be them rich or poor Stan and Bud , successful or failures James and Joe , educated or ignorant Jimmy and Jake Actors on a grim stage all of them, not only Helen , their individual destiny may fleetingly interest some gossip column of a newspaper, but it is not important per se, a mere drop in the whirlpool of history Some read Manhattan Transfer as a fervent critique of the American capitalism, for it is known that, at the time of its creation, Doss Passos was a leftist Maybe the novel can be interpreted like this also, but it is neither tendentious nor engagThe capitalism is only another way of destruction of the humankind, together with war, time and personal emotions Above suicides, lost loves, lost jobs, minor thefts and big larcenies, strikes, war, prohibition, the city blankly contemplates the struggle of generations, knowing so well that no one can truly leave The last image of the novel, with Jimmy Herf, apparently free of love and society, keen to go pretty far is maybe the most tragic of all, for what is the river he travelled down by ferry but Styx I m going to pull a GJ Ginnie Jones here and stateManhattan Transfer is a kaleidoscopic portrait of New York City in the first two decades of the 20th century that follows the changing fortunes ofthan a dozen characters as they strive to make sense out of the chaos of modern urban existence Yeah, so that s really what you need to know if you, you know, want the breakdown Of course, I need to add my own two cents Of course Reading this was an act of love My husband has tried for I m going to pull a GJ Ginnie Jones here and stateManhattan Transfer is a kaleidoscopic portrait of New York City in the first two decades of the 20th century that follows the changing fortunes ofthan a dozen characters as they strive to make sense out of the chaos of modern urban existence Yeah, so that s really what you need to know if you, you know, want the breakdown Of course, I need to add my own two cents Of course Reading this was an act of love My husband has tried for almost 20 years to get me to read Dos Passos I usually give it a few pages and then find some excuse The library asked for it back, I left it on the bus, I m menstrual to drop it and hope that he d forget but yeah he s stubborn I ve tried The USA Trilogy and those Camera Eyes just got to be too much Dos Passos is often associated with Joyce and some other writers that I ve never really had much interest in and it s always sort of daunted me made me feel stupid I began to resent him just for this reason So, I picked up Manhattan Transferwith great reluctance I counted the pages I did status updates I soldiered on Did I hate it Not really Would I consider readingNot really I m extremely lukewarm here First of all,than a dozen characters may sound like an okay thing, but try following plot lines forand I stress this than 12 personalities Not so easy It s like sitting on a park bench at a playground and making up stories for each person there and then going back in two weeks and trying to remember each scenario and continue on You may only follow them around for a page or two because they, you know, die or disappear Where d you go, Emile or they may be absent for like oh 100 pages and you ve met so many new people in between that only the name sounds familiar and you re either too exhausted to recall or you don t care enough anyway Which I suppose isn t all that unlike living in a city trying to remember who that person who is smiling at you in the corner market and do you really know them or is it someone that you might have seen at a friend s apartment and it turns out that they re actually your neighbor down the hall Yeah, not unlike that So, I guess I d have to say that the main character here IS the city and how each character deals with it and how their luck determines their lot in life This is when unions were being formed and the market was young This is WWI with a big chunk of immigration This is not the New York City that I knew so, again I wasn t all that invested in the book I enjoyed reading each character s story but I wasn t attached to any of them including NYC and I found that I had to muddle through and fight back some yawns It took a good third of the book before I found a groove and could resist putting it down I also felt that none of the characters were particularly fond of New York either and I had to laugh at this phraseThe terrible thing about having New York go stale on you is that there s nowhere else to go It s the top of the world All we can do is go round and round in a squirrel cage.Indeed So I guess I could use the It s not you, it s me excuse but I m not so sure I feel like I shouldn t really discount myself on this one Sometimes I just needto work with And it s really about 2.8 stars because it wasthan OK, but I didn t like it It might be difficult to understand this novel if you ve never lived in a large city Dos Passos captures the chaos and disorientation of trying to survive in an urban battlefield, with all its violence, interruptions, temptations, anonymity, stimuli, and speed by writing in a still experimental modern style of cut ups, fragments, and stream of consciousness Manhattan Transfer s ferociously exciting to read, not only because it so accurately represents the physical sensations of modernity in ju It might be difficult to understand this novel if you ve never lived in a large city Dos Passos captures the chaos and disorientation of trying to survive in an urban battlefield, with all its violence, interruptions, temptations, anonymity, stimuli, and speed by writing in a still experimental modern style of cut ups, fragments, and stream of consciousness Manhattan Transfer s ferociously exciting to read, not only because it so accurately represents the physical sensations of modernity in just as innovative a manner as Joyce, Woolf, and Faulkner, but because its politics are critical if some readers protest against Dos Passos sketchbook characterizations, keep in mind he s attempting to paint a portrait of a merciless capitalist system here and its effect on people across the social strata What saves it from being a merely polemic work is that Dos Passos vision is scopic he s concerned not just with the system but with the complex web of life it fosters, which means there s psychology involved along with sociology I can t imagine that anybody could render New York City from the turn of the 20th Century to the 20 s with all its hope and despair, its immigrants and string pullers, its tragedies and illusions any better Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos may be highly acclaimed, but I do not like it It pulsates the down side and only the down side of New York City It draws the lifestyle of the the Roaring Twenties and the disillusionment characteristic of authors of the Lost Generation I dislike the book s excessive fragmentation and the multitude of characters that flash by in a blur.The characters are a large group of people, from struggling immigrants to the well established and secure, inhabitants o Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos may be highly acclaimed, but I do not like it It pulsates the down side and only the down side of New York City It draws the lifestyle of the the Roaring Twenties and the disillusionment characteristic of authors of the Lost Generation I dislike the book s excessive fragmentation and the multitude of characters that flash by in a blur.The characters are a large group of people, from struggling immigrants to the well established and secure, inhabitants of Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century The time period covered is two to three decades, from the Gilded Age to the Jazz Age, so through the First World War The setting remains fixed to the city The city itself is a character in fact the prime character The pulse of the city is felt throughout Life in the city is chaotic and haphazard The focus is on the city rather than the story s characters or even what they do The characters are each one of a multitude and none do you come to know intimately You observe from a distance the whirlwind of their lives Do you care when something bad happens to them No They are a part of a group, each is simply an individual of the mass, the people of the city.The telling is fragmented and disjointed One shifts rapidly and abruptly from scene to scene Events are presented as snapshots that zip by in a blur A reader must fill in for themselves what has happened between snapshots The hubbub and dirt of the city is hammered in repetitively Time with characters is spent predominantly in bars and, as a consequence, conversations are shallow and empty Dos Passos has drawn a universe where absurdity, tragedy and fatalism reign His focus is not on individuals The city is a downward spiraling force bigger than the people in it Joe Barrett narrates the audiobook On top of not liking the book, neither do I like Barrett s narration He over dramatizes His pronunciation of words is unclear Words are slurred This is done for effect, an example being when the person speaking is tipsy or drunk The tempo is fine, but I dislike how the volume at which the words are spoken varies significantly Some words are yelled, others are whispered No, I do not like the narration, so I am giving it one star As usual I rate the book and the narration separately.I dislike the fragmented style of the writing and the blur of the characters They are superficial, just as Dos Passos intended them to be One Man s Initiation 1917 4 starsManhattan Transfer 1 starThree Soldiers maybe I had avoided Dos Passos novels for fear that they would be deadeningly political Was I ever wrong This book is wonderfully enjoyable Told in impressionistic vignettes the book moves quickly as stars on the Manhattan stage rise and fall Dos Passos indictment of the materialism and soulessness of turn of the century New York is told with neither sentiment nor heartlessness, but falls in a middle ground dispassionate The time frames can be confusing For instance, in the beginning the book,th I had avoided Dos Passos novels for fear that they would be deadeningly political Was I ever wrong This book is wonderfully enjoyable Told in impressionistic vignettes the book moves quickly as stars on the Manhattan stage rise and fall Dos Passos indictment of the materialism and soulessness of turn of the century New York is told with neither sentiment nor heartlessness, but falls in a middle ground dispassionate The time frames can be confusing For instance, in the beginning the book,the child Ellen is born, and the novel carries her to a school age However,in the same section, the time lapse for Max, a wanderer hoping to find a job in the city, is only a few days Some characters are followed from childhood to adulthood, the two most promnient are Jimmy Herf and Ellen Others appear briefly and then are never heard from again leaving a tantalizing void.On a peculiar note, I have never read a book where color is used in such an effective way At times it seems as if colors shine dimly on the story, rather like gels have been but in can lights And the color green is forever popping up I have no idea if it was intentional Very odd and intriguing Really a fantastic book, and I am now going to search outof dos Passos s books A too long narrative poem, or a ramshackle near miss of a novel Read in my old book circle, 2010 ish. Of two best TV shows of this century, Breaking Bad is a deep character study The Wire is a deep city study Breaking Bad is about people The Wire is about systems, architecture, an entire structure from the top to the bottom That s a tough trick to pull off It s not very inviting there are necessarily many characters, some of whom you don t get to spend much time with, and it s hard to get into a story that keeps shifting under you This is also why nonfiction history books are wayfu Of two best TV shows of this century, Breaking Bad is a deep character study The Wire is a deep city study Breaking Bad is about people The Wire is about systems, architecture, an entire structure from the top to the bottom That s a tough trick to pull off It s not very inviting there are necessarily many characters, some of whom you don t get to spend much time with, and it s hard to get into a story that keeps shifting under you This is also why nonfiction history books are wayfun when they narrow their focus Manhattan Transfer is to early 1900s New York as The Wire is to early 2000s Balti a panoramic picture of the city, from the politicians at the top to the most hopeless castaways One major difference there are only white people in this book Dos Passos himself was one quarter Portuguese, in case you were wondering That s ambitious and interesting, and it s not like there aren t any characters at all to latch onto The two major recurring ones are Jimmy Herf, the author s stand in, and Ellen Thatcher variously known as Ellie, Elaine and Helena, for some reason The two orbit each other all through the book Most of the characters weave in and out of each other s lives There are like a jillion of them, and you don t really have to keep all of them straight How can you tell them apart nurse Sometimes we can t , and she s talking about babies but he s talking about New York Other recurring ones include Bud, the first guy we meet, who comes to NYC to escape his brutal farm life view spoiler and ends up committing suicide hide spoiler Jimmy s cousins James and Maisie Ellen s whiny friend Cassandra, who has a speech impediment that Dos Passos himself apparently shared Stan Emery, a dissipated, drunken young rich guy view spoiler Ellen is in love with him, but he drunkenly manages to kill himself in a fire fire being an ongoing theme in the book for some reason, everything s always on fire here I was a little unclear on whether Ellen and Jimmy s eventual baby is Stan s, or whether she aborted Stan s and got pregnant by Jimmy I guess the first option makesdramatic sense hide spoiler George Baldwin, a lawyer who makes his career on a case where a drunken milkman gets hit by a train Gus McNeil, the drunken milkman, and his wife Nellie Joe Harland, a former wall street wizard who s fallen on hard times Dutch, a WWI veteran who can t get a decent job when he returns, and his fiancee Francie Congo Jake, an Italian sailor view spoiler who becomes a wealthy bootlegger hide spoiler Tony Hunter, a gay guy view spoiler who tries to go straight with Nevada Jones, a woman who seems of loose morals and ends up with Congo Jake hide spoiler Each of these stories is interesting, believe it or not Dos Passos gets accused of a lack of people understanding, and of being a little cliched, but I think he s found interesting ways into each character the self hating gay guy, the suicidal failure, the drunk, they ve all got a little something that makes them stand out But that s not even all of them, just the ones I noted down as I went I took notes This book is a little difficult and Dos Passos doesn t do us any favors about it, either he doesn t make all his major plot points super clear He s modernist in that way, although his whole systemic thing looks forward to postmodernism If you re looking for a fun time reading a nice book, this probably isn t your jam Dos Passos doesn t give us a particularly nice view of New York If a man s a success in New York, he s a success says Jimmy s uncle side note New York, New York was written fifty years later , but most people are not successes, and those that are cheated The city is the villain of this story.Manhattan Transfer is said to be practice for dos Passos s mammoth USA trilogy, which broadens the scope to War Peace levels I haven t read it and not sure I m going to this might be enough for me I like it and I respect it but it s a little exhausting This is a book my very first by this author that I simply loved from page one to closing page I wish it was longer as in my mind it s worthy in all the aspects And I smile even now upon finishing it because I am reminded myself that the decision to start reading this book peacefully residing on my private bookshelves from last summer bookfair was that the author is named Dos Passos alongside with John Roderigo and well, in the last novel I read of Jose Saramago The Stone Raft the mai This is a book my very first by this author that I simply loved from page one to closing page I wish it was longer as in my mind it s worthy in all the aspects And I smile even now upon finishing it because I am reminded myself that the decision to start reading this book peacefully residing on my private bookshelves from last summer bookfair was that the author is named Dos Passos alongside with John Roderigo and well, in the last novel I read of Jose Saramago The Stone Raft the main protagonists are travelling around Portugal and Spain in an old car named two horses and then in a cart by real two horses And I started playing with the combination imaginatively dos passos two steps two horses Well, indeed, isn t it a sign Needless to say, for a weird reason, I have been playing in my mind that lovely song Mil pasos by Soha, so very beautiful both texts and music Thus, there was not doubt that this was to be the next book to appeal to my read status Dos Passos to lead to Mil pasos thousand steps Symbolically the novel starts with a scene in a maternity a new baby girl is born and her father is thinking on how to provide the best for his family, especially that all those very young souls deserve a good start in life Later on, everything gets complicated and complex in the cobweb of life in the world second biggest metropolis, populated with both Europe driven immigrants and people coming from inland states to make a good life in New York the city of all promises to come true.There were the dark times of searching for work, food and the right politics then there was the mental hiatus due to wartime WWI , then there was the post war world, where ideological conflict grew There is a true impression, the hopeful revelations that speak to the value of the self and show the worth of a life, there is tensions of modern selfhood and the crises of history, in a way to understand the dark places of being, the lure of extremity, the power of madness, the unusual psychological pressures against which selfhood must be won.Dos Passos is writing about the violence of being, the absurdity of existence, the state of alienation plain and brute a view of the way things just are, a rootless world But he is also writing about the world of survivors, the world where human beings are dwarfed by the cities they life in, by the scale of their urban masses and their lower depths It is a distinctive vision of a New York city at the confluence of 19 20th centuries, an age of the new metropolis collecting within the denatured city, the working city, a cultureless city, a city of wounds and destructive fury, the city of grand riches, a world of investors and shrewd notables, a city of the crowded souls, academic prospects and lovers apartments, which makes it the second biggest metropolis in the world at that time It is about the rise and fall of human condition, populated with a lots of characters, so called heroes, seeking to make it good in a new place, a new life, a new world Most of them are losers, eventually, not to say all of them Alongside with a strong males, there is also a strong gallery of heroines, and so there is, powerful, testing, carnal, quite often destructive one appearing and then displacing another, there seems to be an era of angry women, lawyers and divorce settlements, all happens cruelly The heroes are men of mind but also men of passions, and in their contradiction they suffer the fate of absurdity to which all are condemned In a few words, Life in New York city in the early years of the twentieth century is a nasty dirty game `Download ⇕ Manhattan Transfer ⇶ Considered by many to be John Dos Passos s greatest work, Manhattan Transfer is an expressionistic picture of New York New York Times in the s that reveals the lives of wealthy power brokers and struggling immigrants alike From Fourteenth Street to the Bowery, Delmonico s to the underbelly of the city waterfront, Dos Passos chronicles the lives of characters struggling to become a part of modernity before they are destroyed by itMore than seventy five years after its first publication, Manhattan Transfer still stands as a novel of the very first importance Sinclair Lewis It is a masterpiece of modern fiction and a lasting tribute to the dual edged nature of the American dream