On Bullfighting

A. L. Kennedy, Author
A. L. Kennedy, Author Anchor Books $11 (176p) ISBN 978-0-385-72081-6
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-4090-0228-4
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Perched on the brink of suicide, English novelist Kennedy (Original Bliss) clings to life by busying herself with an assignment to write about bullfighting. She treks to Spain, throbbing from the pain of a displaced disk, and tries ""to discover if the elements which seemed so much a part of the corrida death, transcendence, immortality, joy, pain, isolation and fear would come back to [her]."" Once there, she dives into the facts of the bullfight, describing its terms, tracing its history and plumbing its feeling. She examines the poetic and morbid ritual while studying Federico Garc a Lorca's legacy and dwelling in her own recurring despair. She strives to create what Lorca referred to as duende, ""any piece of art with `dark notes.' "" Thus, she parallels her personal crisis with the fear of the bulls, the precision of the matadors and the tragedy of Lorca's sacrifice in order to contemplate the connection between creativity and self-destruction. Unfortunately, Kennedy's own depression overwhelms the potential of her subject. At times she is so self-deprecating that it is difficult to continue reading, as when she writes: ""Too many hotel rooms can cause depression if you count a room as empty with me inside it, which of course, I do."" Still, although the reader never experiences the rush of invigoration inherent in the bullfight, Kennedy does find some solace in her project, illustrating that while life might be tenuous, it is also, thankfully, tenacious. (Mar. 27)
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