cover image Keys to the City

Keys to the City

DK Publishing, Joel Kostman. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $19.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-2461-7

If Kostman is as proficient a locksmith as he is a storyteller, New Yorkers who use his services can feel secure. Here, he presents 14 tales of people he has encountered in his work, some of the anecdotes humorous, others poignant, a few of them downright sad. Among Kostman's clients are the 92-year-old cousin of Eddie Cantor, who has him try on one of the entertainer's jackets; a homosexual ex-teacher of his whose apartment is invaded by a former lover while Kostman is changing the lock; an aging, possibly paranoid woman whose sister may (or may not) be a schizophrenic guilty of stealing from her. Then there are mobster Bugsy Siegel's former doctor, another medical man heading into senile dementia and, funniest of all, an Italian-American dealer in illegal fireworks on the Lower East Side whose merchandise is constantly being stolen by the cops or his Chinese neighbors. What makes Kostman's book memorable is his unwillingness to categorize, sermonize about or judge those he meets. Like an objective news reporter, he just describes his sessions with the lock-needy, rich and poor. (Oct.)