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Kissing in Manhattan

Kissing in Manhattan by David Schickler
119 reviews (2001) (288p) Best Books

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Book Description
Hilarious, sexy, and deeply tender, Kissing in Manhattan was one of the most celebrated debuts in recent years. Acclaimed author David Schickler's collection of linked stories follows a troupe of love-hungry urbanites through a charmed metropolis and into the Preemption--a mythic Manhattan apartment building. The Preemption sets the stage for a romantic fantasy as exuberant, dark, and dazzling as the city it occupies. Behind closed doors, the paths of an improbable cast of tenants--a seductive perfume heiress; a crabby, misunderstood actor; a preternaturally sharp-sighted priest--tangle and cross, while a perilous love triangle builds around three characters:

James Branch, a shy young accountant with an unusual love for the Preemption's antique elevator, and a strange destiny...

Patrick Rigg, a Wall Street lothario who soothes his pain by seducing
beautiful women, carrying a gun, and attending the nightly sermons of a foreboding priest...

Rally McWilliams, a fetching, hopeful young writer who roams the city at night, searching for the soulmate she believes in but can't find...

Charged with joy and a deadly sense of humor, Kissing in Manhattan is a daring new writer's vision of a world where men and women, good and evil, love and sex, meet, battle, and embrace on every street corner. Review
David Schickler's debut seems at first to be a lot of fun: a gaggle of young Manhattanites with fancy jobs and fine educations chase each other around town, falling in love or not. In a series of linked stories, Schickler gives us a perverted heiress; a bumbling schoolteacher whose teenage student proposes marriage to him; a bad comic who finds his métier in off-off-Broadway theater. The writing is cool and a bit willfully naive: "Rally McWilliams was profoundly lonely," begins the title story. "She wanted to believe that she had a soul mate, a future spouse gestating somewhere in Nepal or the Australian Outback. But in Manhattan, where Rally lived, all she found were guys."

The mood turns dark, however, with the introduction of Patrick, a thirtysomething Wall Street trader who collects women and spends his evenings tying them up in his room. In short order the book's easy comedy is torqued into something more dramatic by Patrick's descent into violence. That Schickler doesn't play to his strengths is not necessarily a bad thing: one admires a writer who reaches beyond facility to something more difficult. But the transition from lighthearted sexual ronde to dirty realism is a bit bumpy. On the other hand, the novel's picture of a dark, desire-ridden Manhattan is an attractively seductive slice of escapism. The linked-stories format gives rise to a feeling of multiplicity, which is just the right tone for a book about a city crowded with pleasures. Describing James, a love-struck young accountant, Schickler writes: "His mind tonight was on the fine and the illicit pleasures of the planet, on their merits and dispersement. Some people cut daisies, thought James. Some visit Wales, or choose cocaine, or dig latrines for the poor and the weak." Everyone, it seems, is after something different. But it's desire itself that interests the author of Kissing in Manhattan. --Claire Dederer

David Schickler Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 0  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 0  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award


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