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Feels like more like a padded magazine article than a labor of passion.

Journalist Lewine debuts in time-honored Hemingway fashion with a blow-by-blow look at the classical art of the bullfighter.

Refreshingly, Lewine is not out to bash the literary lion who so famously tread the corrida de toros before him. Instead, he seeks to emulate Hemingway with such faintly familiar descriptions as this one of his story’s matador hero: “Fran was 28 years old and as good-looking as any man had a right to be.” During recent bullfighting season stretching from March to September, Lewine accompanied the traveling cuadrilla (entourage) of reigning matador Francisco Rivera Ordóñez. Fran’s several forebears starred in The Sun Also Rises and The Dangerous Summer; his father died a national hero after a sensational goring in 1984. Once a “phenom,” the fighter has just separated from his wife and is still recovering from distractions that often plague the celebrity matadors, always eager to please a fickle public intent on the next young hero. Embarking with his company on a punishing road trip via minivan crisscrossing Spain, Fran performs respectably, even triumphantly in dozens of ferias (civil festivals), gaining ears and losing ears as he tries to reestablish his waning reputation. Lewine trots along in his glamorous wake, explaining in laymen’s terms the finer points of this 18th-century bloodletting ritual. Bullfighting is more art than sport, the author reminds us, since a sport contains the suspense of not knowing who will win, and the bull never wins. Lewine examines the three qualities a good matador must display—parar (to stop), mandar (to command) and templar (to avoid extremes)—and discourses on the elegant maneuvers of the muleta cape. He visits a bull-breeding ranch in Seville, introduces the peons involved in a cuadrilla and offers plenty of unflinching ringside action. His prose is workmanlike and restrained, but seldom enthralling.

Feels like more like a padded magazine article than a labor of passion.

Pub Date: July 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-26325-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2005

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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