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Kissing in Manhattan: Stories


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About the Author

David Schickler is a graduate of the Columbia M.F.A. program. He lives in New York. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House and Zoetrope.


Like figures in a strange, spiky, urban frieze, the characters of Schickler's striking debut novel-in-stories pose, strut and cross paths in a darkly romantic, surreal Manhattan. Their geographic ground zero is the Preemption, a Gothic apartment building equipped with an ageless doorman and a venerable 19th-century elevator. On the premises, a devoted wife bathes her timid husband nightly, a headstrong Princeton-bound high school girl proposes marriage to her English teacher, and a perfume heiress humbles a cruel lawyer. Elsewhere, at a few select haunts, a failed comedian earns celebrity status as an angry mouse in a stage play, a smart feminist is seduced by a muscle-car-driving chauvinist named Checkers, and a travel writer searches for the particular something that makes people wonderful. At the dangerous center of the eclectic cast is Patrick Rigg, a 33-year-old stockbroker who unleashes pent-up childhood rage by recruiting a devoted harem of young women and making them fall in love with their own bodies. Rigg brings most of the characters together for the Millennial Solstice Debauchery Spree, a 10-day bacchanal headquartered in the Preemption. But celebration gives way to terror when Rigg discovers that his favorite woman none other than the travel writer, Rally McWilliams has fallen for Rigg's roommate, introvert accountant James Branch. Narrated in a deliberately artless (and occasionally just plain flat) deadpan, the narrative draws its strength from the puzzle-like maze of its intersecting plots and its menagerie of characters with Dickensian names and modern sensibilities. Schickler is a fabulist for the 21st century, a skewed Scheherazade. Though there are thin spots in the web he weaves, his imagination and passion promise much. First serial to the New Yorker. (June 12) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

The story of an apartment building in New York and its denizens, including a perfume heiress, an irritable actor, a Wall Street lover boy, and a smart priest. This was excerpted in The New Yorker's Summer Debut Fiction issue. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"Forget mere sex and the city... Kissing in Manhattan features die-hard romantic strivers in a surreal turn-of-the-millennium New York ruled by the spirit of improbable happy endings."
- The New York Times Book Review

"Schickler has a wild, out-of-left-field dramatic imagination that's really fresh. The way his characters take you, as well as one another, by surprise is terrific fun."
- New York magazine

"Like figures in a strange, spiky, urban frieze, the characters of Schickler's striking debut novel-in-stories pose, strut and cross paths in a darkly romantic, surreal Manhattan. ... Schickler is a fabulist for the 21st century, a skewed Scheherazade."
- Publishers Weekly

"One of the most charming and memorable debuts this year is Kissing in Manhattan.... Tenderness and darkness are around every corner ... There are Gothic overtones, bits of magical realism, moments of true eroticism with hints of danger.... This tender, lovely book and these love-starved and hopeful individuals linger like a reader's dream."
- The New Orleans Times-Picayune

"With these wonderfully haunting, strange, and hilarious stories, David Schickler has established himself as a major new voice in American fiction."
- Ron Hansen, author of Mariette in Ecstasy and Hitler's Niece

"Schickler's playfully alive voice is uniquely his own - sprightly, exact, Herculean in all the fundamentals. What talent! From beginning to end, here you have some of the most pleasurable storytelling of this - or any - year."
- Darin Straus, author of Chang and Eng

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