The Making of Toro: Bullfights, Broken Hearts, and One Author's Quest for the Acclaim He Deserves

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Mark Sundeen receives a call from a big city publisher with an offer to write a book about bullfighting in Spain. Sundeen agrees, assuming that this is his best and last chance to follow the trajectory of his literary heroes, despite the fact that he has never been to a bullfight, doesn't speak Spanish, and is not even a particularly good reporter.
After squandering most of the book advance, Sundeen can't afford a trip to Spain, so he settles for nearby Mexico. But the bullfighting he finds there is tawdry and comical, and there's little of the passion and bravery that he'd hoped to employ in exhibiting his literary genius to the masses.
To compensate for his own shortcomings as an author, Sundeen invents an alter ego, Travis LaFrance, a swashbuckling adventure writer in the tradition of Sundeen's idol, Ernest Hemingway. When LaFrance steps in, our narrator goes blundering through the landscape of his own dreams and delusions, propelled solely by the preposterous insistence that his own life story, no matter how crummy, is worth being told in the pages of Great Literature.
The Making of Toro is a unique comic classic and a sly, poignant tale of the hazards of trying too hard to turn real life into high art.

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Review:

Already the author of one gonzo collection of travel misadventures (2000's Car Camping), Utah-based writer Mark Sundeen is garnering comparisons to archly ironic humorists David Sedaris and Dave Eggers with his second tome, The Making of Toro, but his comical boasting and defiant flights of hyperbolic fancy have more in common with another peer, Neal Pollack, as well as his most obvious influence, the great Hunter S. Thompson. The premise of The Making of Toro is lifted straight out of Hemingway: A publisher approaches Sundeen with the idea of writing a colorful, testosterone-fueled book about bullfighting in Mexico. In true postmodern fashion, the writer rises to the occasion by inventing an accomplished and swaggering Raoul Duke-like alter ego, Travis LaFrance (author of the earlier swashbuckling classic, Fun With Falconry), to mask the fact that he has little actual reporting experience, doesn't speak Spanish, and is woefully short on testosterone himself. (You won't find his brand of hapless travelogue in (Men's Journal.)

Not surprisingly, there's nothing romantic about Sundeen's vision of bullfighting and its macho practitioners. Addicted to wandering off the beaten path, he'd much rather chat with the folks who dispose of the carcasses afterwards. "In the bullring the crowd roars in ecstasy," he writes toward the end of his search for the soul of this bloody sport. "I've heard it before: the sound of great bullfighting happening while I'm in the men's room or snack shack or out in the tunnel for fresh air. I'm writing a book, and the guy whose job it is to lug the beef onto the truck demands to be interviewed. So while the matador is killing with a single graceful thrust, I'm outside the meat truck learning about Oscar Rodriguez." In the end, though, Oscar's story and many others like it are far more interesting than the cliché-ridden tales we usually get in books about glamorous, manly pursuits like climbing Everest or diving down to the Titanic, and Sundeen's wonderfully dry and evocative prose is a joy to read as he takes us behind the scenes to the dark alleys where many adventurers would never think to look. --Jim DeRogatis

About the Author:

Mark Sundeen is the author of Car Camping and lives in Utah.

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9780743236164: The Making of Toro: Bullfights, Broken Hearts and One Author's Quest for the Acclaim He Deserves

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Book Description SIMON & SCHUSTER, United States, 2004. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. Mark Sundeen receives a call from a big city publisher with an offer to write a book about bullfighting in Spain. Sundeen agrees, assuming that this is his best and last chance to follow the trajectory of his literary heroes, despite the fact that he has never been to a bullfight, doesn't speak Spanish, and is not even a particularly good reporter. After squandering most of the book advance, Sundeen can't afford a trip to Spain, so he settles for nearby Mexico. But the bullfighting he finds there is tawdry and comical, and there's little of the passion and bravery that he'd hoped to employ in exhibiting his literary genius to the masses. To compensate for his own shortcomings as an author, Sundeen invents an alter ego, Travis LaFrance, a swashbuckling adventure writer in the tradition of Sundeen's idol, Ernest Hemingway. When LaFrance steps in, our narrator goes blundering through the landscape of his own dreams and delusions, propelled solely by the preposterous insistence that his own life story, no matter how crummy, is worth being told in the pages of Great Literature. The Making of Toro is a unique comic classic and a sly, poignant tale of the hazards of trying too hard to turn real life into high art. Seller Inventory # APC9780743255639

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Book Description SIMON & SCHUSTER, United States, 2004. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. Mark Sundeen receives a call from a big city publisher with an offer to write a book about bullfighting in Spain. Sundeen agrees, assuming that this is his best and last chance to follow the trajectory of his literary heroes, despite the fact that he has never been to a bullfight, doesn't speak Spanish, and is not even a particularly good reporter. After squandering most of the book advance, Sundeen can't afford a trip to Spain, so he settles for nearby Mexico. But the bullfighting he finds there is tawdry and comical, and there's little of the passion and bravery that he'd hoped to employ in exhibiting his literary genius to the masses. To compensate for his own shortcomings as an author, Sundeen invents an alter ego, Travis LaFrance, a swashbuckling adventure writer in the tradition of Sundeen's idol, Ernest Hemingway. When LaFrance steps in, our narrator goes blundering through the landscape of his own dreams and delusions, propelled solely by the preposterous insistence that his own life story, no matter how crummy, is worth being told in the pages of Great Literature. The Making of Toro is a unique comic classic and a sly, poignant tale of the hazards of trying too hard to turn real life into high art. Seller Inventory # APC9780743255639

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Book Description SIMON & SCHUSTER, United States, 2004. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. Mark Sundeen receives a call from a big city publisher with an offer to write a book about bullfighting in Spain. Sundeen agrees, assuming that this is his best and last chance to follow the trajectory of his literary heroes, despite the fact that he has never been to a bullfight, doesn't speak Spanish, and is not even a particularly good reporter. After squandering most of the book advance, Sundeen can't afford a trip to Spain, so he settles for nearby Mexico. But the bullfighting he finds there is tawdry and comical, and there's little of the passion and bravery that he'd hoped to employ in exhibiting his literary genius to the masses. To compensate for his own shortcomings as an author, Sundeen invents an alter ego, Travis LaFrance, a swashbuckling adventure writer in the tradition of Sundeen's idol, Ernest Hemingway. When LaFrance steps in, our narrator goes blundering through the landscape of his own dreams and delusions, propelled solely by the preposterous insistence that his own life story, no matter how crummy, is worth being told in the pages of Great Literature. The Making of Toro is a unique comic classic and a sly, poignant tale of the hazards of trying too hard to turn real life into high art. Seller Inventory # LIE9780743255639

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Book Description Simon & Schuster. Paperback. Condition: New. This item is printed on demand. 192 pages. Mark Sundeen receives a call from a big city publisher with an offer to write a book about bullfighting in Spain. Sundeen agrees, assuming that this is his best and last chance to follow the trajectory of his literary heroes, despite the fact that he has never been to a bullfight, doesnt speak Spanish, and is not even a particularly good reporter. After squandering most of the book advance, Sundeen cant afford a trip to Spain, so he settles for nearby Mexico. But the bullfighting he finds there is tawdry and comical, and theres little of the passion and bravery that hed hoped to employ in exhibiting his literary genius to the masses. To compensate for his own shortcomings as an author, Sundeen invents an alter ego, Travis LaFrance, a swashbuckling adventure writer in the tradition of Sundeens idol, Ernest Hemingway. When LaFrance steps in, our narrator goes blundering through the landscape of his own dreams and delusions, propelled solely by the preposterous insistence that his own life story, no matter how crummy, is worth being told in the pages of Great Literature. The Making of Toro is a unique comic classic and a sly, poignant tale of the hazards of trying too hard to turn real life into high art. This item ships from La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9780743255639

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