There's nothing more Spanish than bullfighting, and nothing that stirs up more judgements and emotions. For Spanish aficionados, it is an art form - balletic, highly skilled, beautiful - not a blood sport, and is covered by the Arts sections, not the Sports Pages, of Spanish papers. Bullfighters are treated like royalty, scrutinized and gossiped about endlessly for as long as they are in the public eye. For a fascinated observer like Lewine, the art of bullfighting proves to be one of the world's most venerable subcultures, ...
There's nothing more Spanish than bullfighting, and nothing that stirs up more judgements and emotions. For Spanish aficionados, it is an art form - balletic, highly skilled, beautiful - not a blood sport, and is covered by the Arts sections, not the Sports Pages, of Spanish papers. Bullfighters are treated like royalty, scrutinized and gossiped about endlessly for as long as they are in the public eye. For a fascinated observer like Lewine, the art of bullfighting proves to be one of the world's most venerable subcultures, seeped in ancient ritual, archetypal machismo, and the feverish attentions of the tabloid press...Lewine illuminates this art and the country it defines by spending a year with one of Spain's premier matadors and all-around celebrities, Francisco Rivera Ordonez. Francisco's grandfather was the greatest bullfighter of his day, whose exploits were chronicled in Hemingway's DEATH AND THE AFTERNOON. Francisco's father was also a distinguished matador, whose stellar career came to an abrupt end when he was impaled in the stomach by his bull when his son was only ten. Francisco is as gifted if not more so than his own forebears, but he is scarred by his father's public death. Now, as the new season opens, he feels anxious of the pressure to live up to his family legacy. His life is complicated by the tabloid scrutiny of his personal life as he separates from his wife, an Italian duchess. Nonetheless, Fran manages a thrilling bloodless season: with early triumphs spoiled by a potentially career-ending injury and a difficult, yet convincing return to glory. Much as Alex Bellos' FUTBAL: A BRAZILIAN WAY OF LIFE unvelled Brazil through its national sport, DEATH AND THE SUN reveals Spain through its own national obsession, revealing it as few outsiders will have seen. It is a book that combines the tension of cliff-hanging narrative with the pleasures of travel writing, and the stimulation of a deep analysis of one country's ancient and thrilling way of keeping itself entertained.
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Mr. Lewine's "Death and the Sun: A Matador's Season in the Heart of Spain" has its moments. Yes, the author is every bit as knowledgeable as the authors of the other books I have read about this subject. I have been reading quite a number of books about Matadores as of late so by the time I got to this one I realized I had somehow lost steam. I gave it 3 stars not for lack of writing abilty or knowldedge of the subject matter, but because the story mostly dealt with a present day bullfighter as opposed to the legendary names of the past, such as Manolete, Joselito, Juan Belmonte, etc. For some reason there seems to be more tragedy, more colorful tales when their stories are told. Mr. Edward Lewine is a true "aficionado" and deserves credit for his smooth writing. I did enjoy the book and for anyone interested on having a collection of these type of books it certainly would be a fine addition. Yes, I gave it a 3 star rating perhaps a little too unfairly but like I said, the past bullfighters and their stories attract me more. Never the less it is definitely a fun book to read and very detailed on explaining the whole experience of the art. Godd Job Mr. Lewine, do not judge my 3 stars too harshly. Ole!
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