THE BOOK: The Miracle on 98th Street.
PUBLISHED IN: 2018, republished in 2020.
THE AUTHOR: Natasha Nesic
THE EDITOR: James Victorine.
THE PUBLISHER: Amazon.com.
SUMMARY: There is a small woman named Michal Imber in a top-floor apartment, just off 98th Street. She is blonde, boisterous, and bless her, she has a knack for turning Millennials into humans again.
In 2015, Michal takes in a silly Westchester dancer. Or rather, once-dancer. Having thrown away her ballet shoes years ago, this kid needs a place to stay over the course of an unintended gap year while she keeps trudging through the fitness industry–oh yes, barbells and all!–trying to make a living for herself. Michal asks no rent, only respect, as her “guest” goes through all the existential punching bags necessary to find herself in Manhattan.
Part memoir, part shadowboxing, The Miracle on 98th Street is a fast-moving meditation through love, luck, and spirituality–an ode to one of the impossible spirits of the Upper West Side.
THE BACK STORY: This novel was originally an MFA thesis for Sarah Lawrence College, and pairs well with coffee.
WHY THIS TITLE: The title is a good one to come back to after you’ve read it the first time. It was originally a nod to “The Miracle on 34th Street,” but there are so many miracles that went into its creation: the miracle of Michal existing; the miracle of finding a place to stay in Manhattan; the miracle of finding yourself in front of a heavy bag; the miracle of finishing this book in the middle of a double metatarsal fracture; and of course the miracle that it still means something, years after it was published.
WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: There’s a little something in it for everyone. If you enjoy watching people at the gym for the abstract anthropology, or if you wonder why the age of twentysomething can be so frustrating, or maybe you like the idea of lyricism in martial arts and weightlifting. (And of course, if you’ve ever had a Michal in their life, reminding you to put on a sweater and close the window before you leave.)
“In a strong and delightful debut work, Natasha Nesic captures the restlessness of a young writer seeking her place in the world. This journey begins with the offer of a friend’s Upper West Side apartment, enrollment in a graduate writing program, and introduction to the mysterious Michal, a 70ish neighbor and former ballerina who lets the author briefly stay with her on two occasions. Nesic’s first-person voice is irresistible, laced with “dangit”s, and an endearing self-effacement that nails 20-something angst. The narrator’s entry into Michal’s art-laden sanctuary with its photos of the former Martha Graham dancer, inspires complex questions around art, dance, and beauty. This more ethereal plane contrasts with Nesic’s role as a fitness trainer, seamlessly integrating asides on strengthening muscles, and humorous confrontations from her kickboxing bag, a merciless sage nicknamed Baggins. Like Marcel Proust or Josep Pla, Nesic looks for the story to write — only to discover she is living it. I look forward to more well-crafted work from this talented writer.” — Ann Cefola, author and poet.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Natasha Nesic is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer who specializes in intellectual, creative, and forward-thinking fitness. With her background in dance, powerlifting, movement training, and martial arts, she helps individuals transform themselves beyond a kinesthetic experience, and enjoy the process to reach the next level of health and wellness. She practices in New York City, and offers online classes worldwide.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: In all honesty, the real miracle is how this book came to be in the first place. I’m incredibly grateful for all the support that’s gone into its existence, and the support it continues to receive, even years after its fledgling publication.
SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). Sample on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Miracle-98th-Street-Natasha-Nesic-ebook/dp/B07CRSG1F9/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1589806439&refinements=p_27%3ANatasha+Nesic&s=digital-text&sr=1-1&text=Natasha+Nesic.
WHERE TO BUY IT: Online only.
PRICE: $14.99 paperback; $5.99 Kindle ($0.00 on Kindle Unlimited).