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100 Books in One Year: #69 Kissing in Manhattan by David Schickler

By Dustin Rowles | Books | April 17, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Books | April 17, 2009 |

This book felt like Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney trying to play a party game where they could only communicate in JD Salinger. The entire book reeked of this faux urbane, a group of people in tight black sweaters standing around a SoHo loft smoking pot and clutching wine glasses and bemoaning the downfall of modern cinema. Only a thousand times more profane and obnoxious. It’d actually be more like a depressed teen in Nebraska blogging about a party where people stood around bitching about haute culture. It was written by someone standing on the outside of that scene, nose pressed in to the window, desperate to fit in.

While undoubtedly imaginative, and assuredly something that would pop up on or something equally nauseatingly trendy, it just bugged the fuck out of me. It was a collection of intertwining short stories — think Nine Stories without enough bananafish — only with a coven of the most unpleasant characters around. There wasn’t anyone you could associate with. It was like flipping through a fashion magazine full of glossy pictures of people who looked down on you.

It’s about rich New Yorkers being spoiled and neurotic, but not nearly as fun as the author thinks it is. It’s like Ellis without dry wit, centering around a shoddy Patrick Bateman clone without the excuses of Reaganomics. It’s about awkward people living stupidly with sudden up-peaks of random behavior that’s supposed to be shocking and chichi, but instead comes off like it was based on an undermedicated tween’s revenge list. I’m gonna get rich and then hire girls to stand in front of mirrors and stare at themselves. I’m gonna be a depressed travel writer who’s got body issues. I’m gonna open a restaurant without a menu where people order things like Chicken and Noodles and Origami. I’m gonna have a nightclub with skinheads and a minotaur.

Perhaps if I hadn’t have already skinned my knees on the jokes of Ellis, I would have found this more amusing. Instead, it felt like a letter scrawled on notebook paper that lists a desperate cry to be able to sit at the breakfast club table with the rest of the literary brat pack. It made me want to punch an apple.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. Details are here and the growing number of participants and their blogs are here.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.