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David Schickler   Kissing in Manhattan  
David Schickler    
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Kissing in Manhattan is the stylish debut novel from David Schickler. Schickler made a splashy literary entrance last summer with the publication of his short story "The Smoker" in The New Yorker Debut Fiction issue. That appearance quickly led to a two-book publishing contract with the Dial Press and movie sales to Scott Rudin and Robert Redford. The Manhattan of the title is an imagined landscape within real-life neighborhoods where magic and grit texture love stories as charming and abashing as the characters drawn into them.

"The Smoker," a modern fable of arranged marriage, is one of the many stories in this novel that draws disparate characters into a loose confederation with eccentric but intensely-held notions of love and romance. Ateacher at a private girl's school is invited to the home of a precocious and beautiful student to celebrate her admission to Princeton but her parents have other plans to discuss with him in a story where compatibility might be tested in unusual ways, such as a hard punch to the gut.

In another story we meet Patrick Rigg, a wealthy investment banker who dresses up his revolving cast of dinner dates in designer evening gowns only to rip them to shreds while his date stands poised before a mirror in his bedroom, obediently gazing at her image until Patrick is satisfied that she has learned to see, as he does, her beauty. Patrick's quiet roommate and colleague, James Branch, carries with him a magical pair of opal earrings that are totems for his one true love. He worries them in his hands as he pieces together an image of the woman who will one day wear them. James has also established a rapport with Otis, an antique, hand-cranked elevator in the Preemption, a fortress-like apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The Preemption, presided over by a mysterious and powerful doorman named Sender, is eventually host to almost all of the characters in Kissing in Manhattan and, like the novel, it provides a rakish setting for the dreams of love that spring from the pages of this urban valentine.

In this issue of Bold Type, David Schickler reads from two funny and erotic stories in the novel, reveals his top-five list of sexy Gotham locations and, in a conversation we had in a Park Avenue skyscraper, speaks engagingly about the experience of writing Kissing in Manhattan far from the glittering city lights.

--Catherine McWeeney

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  Photo credit: Lucy Bekheet

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