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Minor Michener at best, this slim yarn of bullfighting, religious faith, honor and adventure reaffirms the author's love of Spain, evidenced in his earlier Iberia, and introduces a veneer of spirituality that bestows a glib trendiness on the narrative. In flashback, narrator Shenstone, an American sports journalist, tells about his experiences two decades previously, when he was covering bullfights in Seville during a three-week festival that began on Palm Sunday. Shenstone meets proud, aged rancher Don Cayetano Mota, who prays to the Virgin Mary that the bulls he raises will perform well and thereby redeem his family name. Don Cayetano, whose spirit enters the consciousness of his bulls as they fight in the ring, has repeated apparitions of the Madonna that skeptical rationalist Shenstone initially dismisses; as events unfold, however, the American's disbelief is shaken. Don Cayetano's enemy is scrawny, cowardly Gypsy matador Lazaro Lopez, whose sister, the sinister Gypsy storyteller Magdalena, foresees that a bullfight will end in tragedy and uses her occult power to protect her brother. Regrettably, the final showdown in the ring?a mortal duel between good and evil?turns on simplistic stereotypes. And though Michener intends his colorful narrative, crammed with the lore of the toreador, as a paen to bullfighting, those who regard the sport as a cruel spectacle will find confirmation in the graphic narrative. Illustrated with 26 two-color drawings by John Fulton, a Seville-based American matador. Simultaneous Random House Audiobook; simultaneous large print trade edition, $22 0-679-76510-7.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Megaselling historical novelist Michener tells a tall tale. Shenstone, a sports journalist, goes to Spain to cover the aged proprietor of a ranch that produces bulls for the corrida--animals that, alas, do not measure up to the grandeur of their grandsires. The old man, Don Cayetano Mota, is praying daily and performing acts of homage to the Virgin--some of them dangerously demanding of a man of his years--so that she will intercede and restore the honor of his bulls. After one disastrous corrida in Malaga, Don Cayetano's prayers start coming true. But the old man gets involved in a contemptuous war of wills with a flashy young matador who is infamous for his sloppy kills and, worse yet, his frequent ploy of arguing with a fight's presidente that a bull is not worth killing, which causes the fans to riot. Inevitably, there comes a showdown between one of the newly magnificent Mota animals and the "cowardly" fighter, during which Shenstone, who has already seen some remarkable things when Don Cayetano has been at prayer, realizes that he has witnessed the miraculous. Par for Michener, most of the prose is as lively as income-tax instructions, and the characterizations are monochromatic. But Michener loves bullfighting, and whenever this tale focuses on it, his writing becomes, if hardly brilliant, at least informatively interesting. Ray Olson --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product Description