By People Staff
July 09, 2001 12:00 PM

by David Schickler

“As of the first week of June,” an impossibly precocious 19-year-old prep student says to her flummoxed teacher after proposing marriage with her parents’ blessing, “I’m prepared to become completely infatuated with you.” So goes “The Smoker,” a reversal of Meet the Parents crossed with J.D. Salinger that is one of 11 offbeat stories in a beguiling debut collection. Alternately as funny and frightening as the city itself, Schickler’s is an inventive, if socially stunted, vision of lonely hearts—a woman with dangerous sexual needs, a guy who talks to elevators—desperate to only connect. (Dial, $21.95)

Bottom Line: Pucker up