9780385720816 / 0385720815

On Bullfighting





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About the book:

Following the publication of her novel Everything You Need, writer AL Kennedy found herself suffering from an acute inability to produce prose fiction. This, coupled with a general unhappiness and "the fact" that she was "literally boring" herself "to death" led Kennedy to contemplate suicide. Saved by the banal strains of a "pseudo-Celtic pap" song she hears as she is about to jump from the open window of her flat, Kennedy, who refuses to die without a "rag of credibility", resumes life and sets about the book that she has been commissioned to write: a non-fiction study of bullfighting, a study of "people who risk death for a living." Immersing herself in the arid heat of Spain and the lore and lure of the corrida, Kennedy travels to the heartlands of bullfighting--Madrid, Seville and Granada, in order to dissect the spectacle of ritual death and go beyond her received assumptions of this most graphic of public sports. She discovers that the culture of the toreros permeates Spain, that the "golden age" of bullfighting of the 1930s has been resurrected by new young hopefuls in the 1990s, that the nauseating, fascinating machinations of the corrida are played out as entertainment on afternoon television--and fancies that the tears of Seville's famous statue of the Macarena flow for the doomed matadors. The perfect antidote to macho posturing, On Bullfighting is an intelligent, many-layered account of one of the most mysterious and controversial rituals still practised daily in Europe. An impartial observer and thorough researcher, Kennedy takes us through the tense moments of the corrida as she witnesses it: mediocre, undignified and cruel by turns and yet also almost "a religious experience, the sight of a man willing in, taking in, an animal's life. It is a strange thing to watch: an elaborately prepared transgression, a sacrifice and a sin, ugly and peculiarly moving". --Catherine Taylor

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