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It is the morning of Pacote's last fight, the finale of one of the greatest careers in Spain. The posters are up, the great black bulls are waiting, and a heavy air of expectancy hangs over the city. Pacote, alone in his dressing room, feels the heavy ball of fear pressing against his heart. For he knows that he has been falling off, that he will be unable to face the bulls this day, that he will disgrace himself before the young upstart who is fighting with him and before the crowd that has immortalized him too soon. And there is a woman ... the woman. From the moment the gate is opened and the first bull enters the ring, you are there in the stands with the screaming crowd, at the ringside with the sweating sword handlers and the banderilleros, and in the lonely emptiness at the center of the arena with only a red cape and a slender sword.
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Barnaby Conrad is the author of twenty-five books of fiction and nonfiction, including Hemingway's Spain, How to Fight a Bull, and Matador, which has sold more than three million copies. He is an artist and former bullfighter and American vice-consul in Spain, founder and codirector of the Santa Barbara Writer's Conference, and a native San Franciscan.
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