Manhattan Transfer

John Dos Passos

new york city circa the early 1990s is almost a character in itself in this multi-focused story about various people with intersecting lives living and passing in the city. it’s amazing how even though the city is markedly different, certain descriptions portray it surprisingly the same as what it’s like today. i was struck by how the quality of light, the passings of days, and the way the seasons refract down the avenues were entirely familiar. some things don’t change.

it might be less enjoyable to read without some intimacy with the city and its geography. but the perspective on these various lives, partially focused on the industrial-revolutionized working class, is fresh and sharp. an editorial review calls this the classic depiction of a city’s struggle to embrace modernity or risk being destroyed by it — i guess so.

turned on by open brackets.