Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Keys to the City Hardcover – September 15, 1997


See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$27.95 $0.01
Best%20Books%20of%202014
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Holiday Deals in Books
Holiday Deals in Books
Find deals for every reader in the Holiday Deals in Books store, featuring savings of up to 50% on cookbooks, children's books, literature & fiction, and more.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: DK CHILDREN; 1st Ed. edition (September 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789424614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789424617
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,002,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA. This collection of 14 stories is based on the author's experience as a professional locksmith in New York City. A young man, Kostman is on call at all hours. He offers aid to people locked out of cars or apartments or provides release or protection for their possessions. In the course of such duties, he encounters a variety of city dwellers old and young, housewives and gangsters, all desperate for his services and rich in those idiosyncrasies attributed to New Yorkers. He meets Eddie Cantor's 92-year-old cousin; Buggsy Siegel's doctor; and others all haggling over payment, skipping out, or (rarely) rewarding him. The appealing main character and varied sequences will attract YAs, as will the humor.?Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Kostman, a licensed Big Apple locksmith, certainly gets around the city in the pursuit of his profession. In his debut as an author (no license required), he offers a view of a few of the people and sights glimpsed beyond the doors he unlocks. This slender volume is a compilation of the odd scenes Kostman has run into over the years and the peculiar dialogues in which he was a bemused participant. The slices of life are as abundant and fragrant as a Broadway deli's pastrami on rye. As he changes tumblers or replaces lost keys, the intrepid journeyman encounters human interest with a vengeance, from 11-year-old Gloria, who looks after her apparently senile Papi, to the aging Mrs. Herzog, who believes her sister is robbing her blind. Kostman releases those locked in and lets in those locked out (never, it seems, feeling the need to verify the customer's right of passage). Bedeviled by jammed doors are doctors and gypsies, musicians and welfare clients, a psychiatrist and an East Side matron who could use one, a clandestine fireworks dealer and a troupe of naked old men. All converse freely and at length with the compliant locksmith/scribe. They may live in the precincts of poverty or in areas of affluence- -with no relationship to willingness to pay the locksmith's fee-- but most of the little dramas seem to happen in dark or dank places. ``The fish and piss odors produce an overpowering stench'' in one locale. ``At the bottom,'' in another, ``the alley is dark and everything is covered with bird shit.'' These are New York kinds of tales. Short stories by a locksmith with the key to a little Pandora's box of urban yarns. Written in the present tense with a touch of tense presence, the vignettes, while not earthshaking, provide salty, easy, lively city kibitzing. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
Joel is just a nice guy -- no questions there. He's also insightful and humble so he can let a story tell itself without trying to show off his ability to write. His writing style reminds me of a baseball umpire -- an umpire is at his best when you don't even realize he's umpiring the game. Joel's stories are like that -- they just smoothly tell themselves without too much editorializing and too much dramatization. He also doesn't use his book as an opportunity to list the litany of freaks, kooks, and morons he's undoubtedly dealt with in his locksmith years in NYC. These are funny stories, but they are more about everyday people and what they do to fill their time and make ends meet. It's the type of book that reassures you about the quality of people around you and makes you realize how extraordinary an ordinary life can be. It's a quick read, a few hours at most, but it's well worth it. I only wish there were more books by this author.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Eileen G. on March 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
Joel Kostman provides at least two essential services: locksmithing and storytelling. He is calm, smart, and - this unfolds with the stories - a careful observer-participant. In addition he is often saving the day for his characters, and he is humble.
These stories are great and short (as in, most are ten or fewer pages long) but each with a distinct purpose. You also find out that the narrator's brother, now schizophrenic, was once a Professor of Philosophy - and that Kostman knows an important moment when he meets one. He likes people, and they like him. You understand why.
This is a fine collection of stories that are unpretentious, elegantly simple, and very humane.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The theme is deceptively simple: a New York locksmith goes out to fix a lock, takes care of business, gets paid and goes home. But in Joel Kostman's world, this is merely the backdrop for a series of strange and wonderful encounters with complete strangers who literally open their homes and hearts to this man who appears neutral and non-intrusive while quietly observing every minute detail of the inner lives of these "ordinary" people. In a series of 14 stories told in the first person, Mr. Kostman reveals a level of compassion and observation uncommon to the bluecollar business he is in. He is a very gifted writer who also happens to be a locksmith. With this debut volume we are introduced to an original voice that is both touching and hilarious.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
The day I moved to NYC, Joel was my locksmith, and I'm happy to say he's as brilliant a writer as he is/was a locksmith. His book is wonderful-it does exactly what you want great art to do. It's heartbreaking at turns, hilarious at others, it's a sly and witty Valentine to NYC, and it's just flat-out wonderful. I can't wait to see what he'll do next.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The writing is excellent, but the subject matter is a little too New Yorkish for my taste.

The best of this collection of short stories is "Tarzan Finds a Mate", about a flirtatious young woman trying to get into her sports car late one night outside the author's apartment building. I heard it read on NPR in early 2014, and decided I wanted to find and read the entire book. I was a little surprised that it was currently out of print, but at least it was available on Amazon. When I received it in the mail, a little extra added touch was that it was in almost new condition and had been part of the collection of the Elmhurst Illinois Public Library. Inside the clear pastic cover flap was one of those Date Due slips. The earliest of the four dates was Oct 10, 1998, and the last was March 24, 2001. After that, it must have been withdrawn from circulation. Why, I don't know. The book was no "Bright Lights, Big City", but it is definitely worth reading. We live in a strange world these days as far as reading, books and the book business.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first heard one of these stories read by the author, a NYC locksmith, on a repeat airing on This American Life this summer. Intrigued, I tried to find a copy of the book, but soon discovered that it was out of print. Fortunately, I found a "like new" copy on Amazon offered by Glands of Destiny First Edition Books for a very reasonable price. The book arrived in about three days and was as advertised, an excellent first printing with the book jacket covered in archival-safe mylar. Glands of Destiny tripled wrapped the book in three sheets of bubble wrap and covered the volume in two vinyl inserts as well. Incredible care and detail went in to the shipping materials unlike anything I have ever seen. The book itself is a collection of 14 artfully rendered stories of Joel Kostman's encounters with the denizens of the big apple in his role as a locksmith. As noted in a Publisher's Weekley review, "If Kostman is as proficient a locksmith as he is a storyteller, New Yorkers who use his services can feel secure". I concur and recommend that you give this book a read if you can find it!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book as I am a locksmith and can relate to many of the stories in this well written book. You don't have to be a locksmith to appreciate this book however; it is much like taxi cab confessions and the like. Light hearted read and funny. A few touching moments, would read again but I leant it out and didn't get it back.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again