MATADOR by Barnaby Conrad
Kirkus Star


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Read this as a companion piece to Tom Lea's The Brave Bulls and you will feel that there is little left unsaid. Hemingway has given us, supremely, the drama and poetry of the bull fight from the observer's viewpoint; Tom Lea has made one feel that the bull had his side; and now- in Conrad's extraordinary study of the psychology of fear through the final day in a bull fighter's life of the ring -- the bull fighter is seen as the human behind the public idol.... Pacote, one of the three greatest bull fighters of all time, has been persuaded to come out of semi-retirement for a final fight, in competition with a relative newcomer. He knows he has lost ground immeasurably; an unhappy love affair has been offset by recourse to the bottle; his whole being is permeated by fear. I've never read anything in which naked fear was so persuasive and contagious a factor, so that the reader finds himself stalked by fear for each page of the book. The drama of Sevilia on the day of a great fight -- the almost moment by moment living with Pacote during the day -- the despair when he is pushed down first by the persistent and obnoxious American journalist, then by Socorro, whom he knows is his evil Nemesis -- and the fight itself, young Tano's triumph, Pacote's defeat, and finally the spectacular comeback which in its final move cost him his life -- all this unfolds as one reads with almost unbearable fidelity to scene and mood. A tour de force, successfully carried through.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1952
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin