Vicki of Reading At The Beach hosts A-Z Wednesday. Today’s letter is K.

I’m going back to one I read in April 2008. The description is from, because I don’t remember the book well enough to summarize is on my own.

Kissing in ManhattanKissing in Manhattan by David Schickler

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 m├ętier 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. (

At the time, I wrote that this is one of those books you have to take for what it is. It’s the story of a bunch of New Yorker’s who each have their own stories, but whose lives all intersect and at the heart of the story is the Preemption apartment building. Some of the stories are stronger than others. I kind of wish Schickler had stayed with the idea of short stories that kind of blend together and had left out a few of the later chapters.


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