Colombian-born poet Manrique sends N.Y.C. a crazy valentine: a sexy, offbeat novel that's as much about the city itself as about a gay Latino finding his place there. Santiago (Sammy) Martinez thinks ``immigration'' is too big a word for relocating from one cocaine capital (Bogot†) to another (Jackson Heights, Queens). The significant move was away from his mother to an apartment in Times Square; he works as an interpreter, nurses his dying cat, and tries to complete his epic poem about Columbus. During a weekend visit to Queens--where his seductive mother and three lady poetasters are scheming to marry him to a lesbian drug-fortune heiress--he sees his best friend die of AIDS, survives a shootout at the Japanese nightclub where his sister sings hot tangos, and finds himself in inadvertent possession (thanks to his teenage nephew) of a cache of cocaine. Fleeing back to the comparative tranquility of crime-ridden, crack-driven Times Square, Sammy's soon got a gun in his toilet tank and gangsters on his trail. Without overlooking the despair and poverty of contemporary urban life, Manrique celebrates New York's vitality and beauty. Drug use is frowned on, but characters engage in bestiality, exhibitionism, etc., without ever ceasing to be endearing--good-hearted folks who almost anyone (well, maybe not Jesse Helms) would welcome as neighbors. In this world, a midget hooker--and maybe even Sammy--can find true love. Ethnic details will tickle insiders and tourists: a humorous, essentially optimistic vision.