Spain by the Horns: A Trip to the Heart of the World's Most Colourful Nation
Tim’s story begins in Australia as he reads a newspaper article describing a man performing strange rituals on a Sydney beach.
Intrigued as a freelance journalist and a fan of Spain he sets out to track down the mystery of the sword man on the beach, and finds Julio a Spanish ex-bullfighter cum day chef.
Julio the beach bullfighter tells Tim about the famous and successful Jesulin de Ubrique, one of the country’s best bullfighters and Tim is hooked, the idea of travelling to Spain to write a book, rather than an article, about the bullfighting star is born.
Disillusioned with his work and inspired by Julio to go for his dreams, he embarks on his Spanish tour, and arrives in the Spain he’s been enchanted with since his travelling days. Tim tries to trace the famous Jesulin with a frustrating lack of success, even his ability to speak the language, doesn’t help fuel his search.
The book is his story of Jesulin, it’s a travel narrative interspersed with Spanish and bullfighting history. We're taken on his tour of Southern Spain and his quest to find the man himself.
A man who’d been called “the Beckham of bullfighting”, some call him a poser or an actor, but wherever Jesulin went his crowds followed. At times it was women only that were allowed to fill the arena.
Aficionados of bullfighting will enjoy this insightful story into Spanish culture and a good introduction to the art of bullfighting if you call it that, with great snatches of some of Andalucia’s best-known areas.
Fiestas and sherry, bullfights and flamenco, Tim shares it all as he travels and attempts to follow in the footsteps of the matador. Journeying from Madrid to Cadiz and back again, blocked by the agent and led up wrong alleys, Tim stayed the course. I’m not sure his aim was fulfilled but the book was written, amidst thoughts and pangs of home, his wife and baby daughter.
Tim writes with honesty and humour and it was a fine tail, well worth a read, but it didn’t make my re-read pile and is probably one of those books that I won’t give pride of place on my crammed bookshelves.