Title: Miracle on West 58th Street
Author: Nina Fontaine Shulman
Publisher: Dorrance Pub Co, 2007
Length: 78 pages
Miracle on West 58th Street (Or Paradise Lost and Found) A Divine Comedy for the Millennium by Nina Fontaine Shulman is a short, yet delightful novella.
Crenshaw Place, located at West 58th Street, is engulfed by an evil miasma. A blight settles upon the garden, and Dr Francis Plantagenet, the head of Doctors Anonymous, flees the premises even as some evil medical secretaries, who are actually vampire bats in human form, take charge. Gradually a pall descends upon the place. Bella and Donna, two pretty cousins, are perplexed by the turn of events and take it upon themselves to get to the bottom of things. Eventually, their uncle, Dr Phelan Hatchett invites his friends to exorcise the place of the somber mood and the evil influence.
There are other sub-plots relating to some of the other characters, but none of them really tie up with each other. Nor are the characters powerful enough to induce you to take an interest in their fates and fortunes. Along the way, it seems as if almost all the characters, including Bella and Donna, Dr Hatchett, Dr Plantagenet and his clone, Cipher Pounceberry, find love, and a vampire woman finds purpose.
The characters have all been blessed with interesting names. Apart from those mentioned above, the other characters populating the story are Agapanthus Cumin, who afterwards morphs into Owilda and then into Penny Thorn, besides Edward Persimmons, Nimbus O’Bloquy and Isoceles Tintagel.
The book is likely to delight lovers of English Literature with its numerous references to other famous works and its many puns. Shulman has played around merrily with English language phrases and clichés to give us a charming story. A number of sentences are calculated to induce a chuckle. Sample this: Tintagel appreciated O’Bloquy’s tendency to go off on a tangent. Or Neither time nor tithe was on his side.
It isn’t much of a story, but that is alright because the focus of this book is the language. The plot is merely incidental, a prop upon which Shulman has hung the language. The writing, of course, is too clever and ponderous for its own good, certainly not what you would expect normal people to speak. So the key to enjoying this one is not letting the haphazard nature of the plot or the clever verbosity of the characters’ speech to disappoint you.