cover image Miracle in Seville

Miracle in Seville

James A. Michener. Random House (NY), $23 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-41822-1

Minor Michener at best, this slim yarn of bullfighting, religious faith, honor and adventure reaffirms the author's love of Spain, evidenced in his earlier Iberia, and introduces a veneer of spirituality that bestows a glib trendiness on the narrative. In flashback, narrator Shenstone, an American sports journalist, tells about his experiences two decades previously, when he was covering bullfights in Seville during a three-week festival that began on Palm Sunday. Shenstone meets proud, aged rancher Don Cayetano Mota, who prays to the Virgin Mary that the bulls he raises will perform well and thereby redeem his family name. Don Cayetano, whose spirit enters the consciousness of his bulls as they fight in the ring, has repeated apparitions of the Madonna that skeptical rationalist Shenstone initially dismisses; as events unfold, however, the American's disbelief is shaken. Don Cayetano's enemy is scrawny, cowardly Gypsy matador Lazaro Lopez, whose sister, the sinister Gypsy storyteller Magdalena, foresees that a bullfight will end in tragedy and uses her occult power to protect her brother. Regrettably, the final showdown in the ring--a mortal duel between good and evil--turns on simplistic stereotypes. And though Michener intends his colorful narrative, crammed with the lore of the toreador, as a paen to bullfighting, those who regard the sport as a cruel spectacle will find confirmation in the graphic narrative. Illustrated with 26 two-color drawings by John Fulton, a Seville-based American matador. Simultaneous Random House Audiobook; simultaneous large print trade edition, $22 0-679-76510-7. (Oct.)