"Manhattan Transfer" is a novel by John Dos Passos, published in 1925.
It was in this book he first employed the themes and techniques that came to characterize his fiction.
The novel is about New Yorkers. It tells the stories of numerous characters whose commonality is only their status as that - New Yorkers - brought together in this book, impersonally and randomly.
Each chapter begins with passages comprising observations of city life, newspaper headlines, bits and pieces of dialogue, and phrases from advertisements. All these passages emphasize that "Manhattan Transfer" is a collective novel about the city of New York, about its shallowness, immorality, and grinds of the urban life. The characters' lives only depict some of them. Of the personalities figured, there are two most prominent ones: Ellen Thatcher and Jimmy Herf.
The novel opens with Ellen's birth. When she is 18 years old, she marries John Oglethorpe, a bisexual. The relationship ends in divorce. She then falls in love with Stanwood Emery, an alcoholic playboy. She gets pregnant with his child. While drunk, Emery marries someone else and eventually dies in a fire. Widowed and pregnant with Emery's child, Ellen decides for an abortion.
Eventually, she becomes successful on stage. This time she gets involved with Jimmy Herf, eventually getting married. They have a child. He, too, leaves her.
At the end of the story, Ellen agrees to a loveless marriage to a lawyer named George Baldwin. Meanwhile, Jimmy Herf works with the "Times" in a job that he finds unfulfilling eventually leaving this job. He hitches a ride making an escape, out of New York.