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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2005

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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