Books: Afternoon of an Old Pro

MATADOR (213 pp.)—Barnaby Conrad —Houghton Mifflm ($2.75).

On the day of his farewell appearance in Seville's bull ring, Pacote, the best bullfighter in Spain, turns to the candlelit image on his dresser, crosses himself, presses his palms together and prays: "Most saintly of Virgins, I don't ask to be good today. This is not like the other days. I only ask that they come out easy, that they don't snag me, that I may live and be able to worship you. Just let me live. Amen."

Pacote is half-drunk. For a year, his courage has been "going fast like a handful of water...

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