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

The Making of Toro by Mark Sundeen
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's review
Jun 11, 08

bookshelves: humorous, mundo-hispano, fiction
Read in June, 2008

Mark Sundeen is a writer is destined to make great contributions to LITERATURE. Unfortunately, he finds little in his life that might provide a wellspring of inspiration and great writing, so he invents a fantasy self, Travis LaFrance. He imagines his LaFrance-self as a man's man, attractive to women, a man who lives a life of adventure, but he really comes off as a second-rate Hemingway writing third-rate prose.

Having written a failed novel, Sundeen manages to convince a publisher to give him an advance to write a book about bullfighting in Spain. After spending most of the money on rent, he decides that a book about Mexican bullfighting would be just as good (no matter what his publisher's lawyers say), especially as it will serve as a vehicle for Travis LaFrance's adventures in romantic Mexico. Fantasies about sultry senoritas and the bloody artistry of the bullring are met with women who all seem to have boyfriends and the bullfighting is more like an episode of Sabado Gigante, with kitschy souvenirs.

There is a lot of humor in this book. I especially liked the effort Sundeen put forth trying to maintain his fantasy, all the while failing to recognize how ridiculous it makes him seem. There's a bit of Don Quixote in this. Unlike Quixote's delusions, which contained a certain amount of idealism, Sundeen's fantasies are mainly tawdry, sad, and pointless (like the bullfighting).
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