By now you must have heard the news.
So, how good a guide was it? It was an eBook that went on for pages and pages, when a simple “Don’t run with the bulls at Pamplona” would have sufficed. Ernest Hemingway’s grandson also contributed to the book. As Gawker notes, “Hemingway is the grandson of Ernest ‘Big Papa’ Hemingway, whose book The Sun Also Rises popularized the old-world ritual among adrenalin-addicted manly English-speakers.”
I have taken the liberty of making some edits to the book.
Where they write, “I asked his grandson, John Hemingway, about this [Ernest Hemingway's own 'goring'] and got the following pithy response: Well excuse the pun, but I think there was a lot of bull in my grandfather’s dispatches to Toronto in the ’20s.” I have left it intact. That part is great.
I have gone through the rest of the book with a red pen and replaced most of the advice with a simple series of steps.
1. So, you want to run with the bulls in Pamplona, do you? Like “Papa” did? Great! It is good to have hopes and dreams and bucket-list items. Bucket-list items are most useful when you are really sick or in danger. They give you something to think about and live for. “No,” you say, clinging tighter to the edge of that ledge, “I can’t let go now. I haven’t run with the bulls at Pamplona yet. It has always been my dream to run with the bulls at Pamplona.” The only danger is that if you make it back onto the ledge, you might actually go out and put this dream into practice. That is no good! If you do it, you will have nothing left to live for. And you will inevitably be disappointed and surrounded by people who smell, as one of the book’s author’s puts it, “of urine, alcohol, and vomit. . . . The one thing they do not stink of is fear. Fear itself has no smell, despite what the novelists say.” Sure. Besides, you might get hurt. The point is: Cherish this dream from the comfort of your home.
2. “No,” you say, “I really want to do it!” Well, don’t.
3. If you actually try to do it, I will have no advice for you. My advice was to stay home. You will see what happens to you if you try to run with the bulls. Bulls are much larger and heavier than you are, and some of them may well be incensed. I don’t know why this is something that appeals to you. The closest I come to the running of the bulls is sometimes I run through Union Station when I am late for a train, dodging one way and twisting another and generally barely avoiding the people around me with a dexterity I did not know I possessed. If you told me that I was about to miss a train on the other side of the bulls, I probably could make it. But that doesn’t seem wise. Stay home, as I told you.
This has already prompted one one-star review on Amazon, from a reader who notes, “July 9th, 2014, one of the contributing authors of ‘How to survive the bulls of Pamplona’ or Bill Hillmann was ironically gored in the running of the bulls in Pamplona. One would hope that authors of a How to book would not be injured following whatever advice is in the book.”
So far, so true.
But was it ironic? There, Amazon Reviewer, we may differ. After all, Bill Hillmann survived. He did get gored twice in the thigh, according to SanFermin.com, but he seemed to be in good condition.
As Angus Parvo noted on Twitter, “Let me know when the author of How Not To Not Get Gored by the Bulls of Pamplona gets gored.”
Somewhere, Alanis Morissette’s fingers are twitching uncontrollably toward a guitar and a notepad. She steadies her hands and clenches them into fists. “No,” she says, “remember what happened the last time. Better not to risk it.”