An Anchor Books OriginalOne Day, On The Brink Of Despair And Contemplating Her Own Mortality, Novelist A L Kennedy Is Offered An Assignment She Can T Refuse An Opportunity To Travel To Spain And Cover A Sport That Represents The Ultimate Confrontation With Death BullfightingThe Result Is This Remarkable Book, Which Takes Kennedy And Her Readers From The Living Room Of Her Glasgow Flat To The Plazas Del Toros Of Spain And Inside The Mesmerizing, Mystifying, Brutal, And Beautiful World Of The Bullfight Here The Sport Is Death Matadors Literally Killersare Men And, Increasingly, Women Who, Not Unlike The Roman Gladiators Before Them, Provide A Spectacle To The Crowd, A Dance In Which Their Own Death Is As Present As That Of The Bull Wonderfully Relaying The Elements Of The Sport, From The Breeding Of The Bulls And The Training Of The Matadors To The Intricate Choreography Of The Bullfight And Its Strange Connection To The Inquisition, Kennedy Meditates On A Culture That We May Not Countenance Or Fully Understand But Which Is Made Riveting By The Precision Of Her Prose And The Passion And Humor Of Her Narrative This is an extraordinarily oblique book as it operates between the authors descriptions of her depressed personal moods and reflections about her own life s circumstances and difficulties through to a history of bullfighting, and you often wonder where the two concerns match and are related to each other Consequently, I found it eccentrically wonderful as both a description of a person s angst about their own world as portrayed within a history of the most terrible entertainment imaginable Bullfighting , and the depictions of its vanity in pretending it is a sport in circumstances where the bull never wins even if he kills or injures the matador , and the pampered and contrived aesthetics of theatrical regalia and meanderingly artificial performances related to the publicly performed mass murder of animals, as though there was a beautiful purpose to such slaughter A great book, and often a hard read I recommend it to everyone. X This book has saved me several times, in so many different ways. Pulled this from my library to read as research for a new assignment I m working on for the League Against Cruel Sports Can t say I m looking forward to it Thumbed it so far Useful glossary in the back Going to be somewhat interesting to read if not enjoyable Anyway, what s a respected author like A L Kennedy who I ve not read before writing about bullfighting Moreover, why is Jeanette Winterson blurbing that it s One of the best books of the year Having now finished this book I can say that I m pleased that I read it however, it was generally disappointing, as it appears to be like an extended magazine article than anything else The mixing of the author s personal circumstances with her description of bullfighting is tenuous and opportunistic, ultimately lacking any real meaning The descriptions of bullfighting and the accounts she describes of what she witnesses in the bullring are good The work is generally informative The glossary is useful. Great opening and ending Struggle with my lack of interest in bullfighting. The best passages in the book are about the history and current state of bullfighting Kennedy has researched the subject thoroughly and has a gift of observation She captures both the sanctity and the luridness of bullfighting in equal measure Contextualizing bullfighting within the religious, political and class upheavals in Spain also provides great insight into the longevity of this ritual That Kennedy couches her travels to Spain and her research into bullfighting with her personal travails is far less successful and, for me, distracting and irritating Other authors have managed this convention better, seamlessly weaving the personal with the topic at hand For many reasons including her pointless diatribes against Hemingway, a well known aficionado , I don t find her a sympathetic character in this work of non fiction. Not quite the tour de force of Hemingway s Death in the Afternoon but it is an update and does give an alternative glance at the subject.The concluding pages may not be to everyone s satisfaction but this work was in fact the work that brought the writer back from the brink of suicide and for that it is a unique reading experience which is woven into the text.If you are daunted by reading Ernest s tome on the subject, which may go into excessive detail and often reads like a history of the subject, then the much manageable book by Kennedy, a Scottish writer, may be exactly what you are seeking on the topic. I get why people don t like this book you either expect a straightforward book about bullfighting thanks to the title and suddenly you re facing the author s depression OR you re scouring the book for clues to Kennedy s illness but have to wade through page after page of bullfighting history Neither seems good, right A little too balanced, leading to a noncommittal to either narrative.And yet the book works for me Kennedy s death obsession finds form and, oddly, life in the hazards of the corrida This little book does much with an idea, a tradition, and ends on a satisfyingly unresolved note when we have faced death and lived, how do we live This would have been four stars for the great information and insights on bullfighting, but it lost one star because of the totally unnecessary portion of the book the author s annoying whining about her physical condition I bought the book because I was interested in learning about the corrida, not the aches and pains and travails of a writer Still, the parts that actually deal with the corrida are well done and help to bring greater understanding of an unfairly maligned grand Spanish tradition.
Alison Louise Kennedy is a Scottish writer of novels, short stories and non fiction She is known for a characteristically dark tone, a blending of realism and fantasy, and for her serious approach to her work She occasionally contributes columns and reviews to UK and European newspapers including the fictional diary of her pet parrot named Charlie.
- 176 pages
- On Bullfighting
- A.L. Kennedy
- 19 December 2018 A.L. Kennedy