Edited by Luis Ortiz
Nonstop Press, $13.95, 175 pages

Why New Yorkers Smoke is a collection of short stories that asks, “What is there to fear in New York City?” and while it answers that question in a number of ways, most intriguing about the stories are the characters themselves. Osama, who is alive and speed dating in “Why We Talk to Ourselves;” Ramon, a barber who cuts the hair of Fidel Castro in “Fidel’s Barber;” and a modern-day golem who watches over a mother and daughter left alone after the September tragedy in “9/11” are just a few. Each author shares a bit of themselves and a bit of the city in their short story, and gives the reader an opportunity to be in New York City for a few pages.

Though some of the pieces take a few paragraphs to pull you in, each one ended up being worth the wait. This reviewer isn’t afraid of New York City, but wants to be there; to meet the eccentric characters and be part of the city. This collection shows that New Yorkers put their blood, sweat and tears into their existence, and will send any reader who believes in the power of the people around them running to New York to experience first-hand Why New Yorkers Smoke.

Melissa Boles