Kissing in Manhattan was a complete surprise to me. A friend gave it to me with an armload of other books, including the “Shopaholic” series, Trading up by Candice Bushnell (author of Sex and the City), and the Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones). This is like that song from Sesame Street… one of these things just doesn’t belong here.
Kissing in Manhattan is based around the fictitious Preemption Apartment Building at the corner of West 82nd and Riverside Drive. Schickler begins this book of short stories with a 22-page tale about Checkers and Donna, and continues narrating his way through the lives of the Preemption tenants and their cohorts.
At first the only connection between the anecdotes was the Preemption and the consistent sexiness of each character. By the end of the book Schickler had built a story out of all of the chapters, and although each could be read independently and be understood and enjoyable, it was only a layer in a much larger chronicle about loneliness, vanity and desire.
The three main characters were strong, easily relatable people. There’s James Branch, the down-to-earth accountant, with whom you fall in love with right away. And Rally McWilliams the travel writer, who’d we all love to be like, except when she makes bad choices in men. And Patrick Rigg the big spender, who teetered from my good list to my bad list every few pages.
I won’t hesitate to call the Preemption Apartment Building a character within the stories as well. It’s mythical nature of permanence makes you feel safe inside the descriptions of the walls, the doors, the hand-operated Otis elevator. But the endurance of the building also made it a feel a bit overwhelming. The elevator seemed to be a metaphor for reliability and safety, amidst all of the lavish chaos going on in the building.
Needless to say, Kissing in Manhattan was not the NY chic lit I was expecting. It was thoughtful, and compelling. It makes you ask questions, and it makes you think about the relationships you have (or don’t have) with the people around you. This book is an excellent read, with easy, poignant language and a fast paced storyline. I would definitely recommend this book to those looking for a romance novel, and those seeking out suspense.