ON BULLFIGHTING | BOOK REVIEW

I meant to update my Melbourne travel post this week but a combination of shooting my first ever photography event on Thursday, an impulsive endeavour to create my first ever short film in under 6hrs on Saturday (in which I didn't check resolution + aspect ratio before shooting), scrambling to finish assignments and unfinished writing for the Hopetoun Tea Rooms review has left me behind schedule.

So, instead, onto the 'I prepared this earlier' segment - books I've managed to read over the summer and really enjoyed: on Bullfighting by A.L. Kennedy

I picked this book up completely by chance, during the Sydney Festival. The book's writing is very unique - an odd combination of narrative, documentary style information and blow-by-blow live recounts of bullfights the author witnessed; it's all woven through prose that is alternately functional and philosophical.

The book traces bullfighting in fine lines, shifting focus easily between the history of man's fascination with bulls (tracing back to the ancient times and exploring bull breeds and anatomy) to a personal recount of the author's experiences in Spain to a blow-by-blow recap of bullfights, explaining the techniques and customs of the culture from the traje corto to tandas.

I opened the book expecting to read about bullfighting but was treated to a much more thoughtful and holistic picture of man's relationship with bulls and the majesty/vitality they represent in many cultures (from Egypt to Greek mythology to India to Spain), and reflections on celebrity culture that unexpectedly accompanies torreros and the terrifying uncertainty of facing regular brushes with death.

As evocactive as the writing is, it's hard to picture the bullfighting in motion so I went to look for a video.

Here's El Juli - there is a sort of perverse beauty in how deftly the torrero sidesteps with a swish of cape and in the way movement and dance can be manipulated and teased from an animal. Thankfully, this video cuts off before the killing blow.

How I wish this form of entertainment didn't have to end in death and/or grievous injury.

Definitely an eye-opening experience on an interesting subject I had never really thought about. Worth a read if you want something different.