Friday, 12 August 2016

Review of 'Manhattan Transfer' by John Dos Passos

I warned you I would be catching up with all my long-forgotten course books. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and the thought of having all these books that I paid hard-earned money for sitting there unread, with my course unfulfilled, makes me feel a little dismal. So yeah, this is part of my mission to combat all those unread downloads and paperbacks. 

Manhattan Transfer was written by Los Passos and published in 1925 - just one year after the infamous The Great Gatsby. Whilst Gatsby has become renowned the world over, and made into several films, this has gone unnoticed, and yet they both tackle the same issue: the deconstruction of the American Dream ideal. Where Fitzgerald uses symbolism, Los Passos uses a jarring alienation technique, switching between reams of characters, locations and scenes. Both however show that there is no individualism in the American Dream because it is simply an illusion.

Manhattan Transfer follows the lives of a number of individuals living in 'The Big Apple'. Some are immigrants to the city, some are returning citizens, and some have never left the city. All are looking to improve their lives. As the novel progresses we see finances and relationships torn utterly asunder by following idealistic thoughts. Perhaps most interestingly, we see women take their own destinies into their own hands, albeit with little success.

If you enjoyed The Great Gatsby, but would like something with a little bit of a modernist twist I would definitely recommend giving this a go!

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