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Muriel Feiner: a big door for a Madrilenian from New York

The author reveals the secrets of Barrio de las Letras
muriel feiner

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It is not clear whether it was Hemingway's fault - as in so many other things - or whether she got herself into the mess. What is certain is that a young New York student went to Las Ventas one day in that time of change and adventure in 1966 and fell in love, in that order, according to her, with "bullfighting, Madrid and the man who would become her husband, a Spanish bullfighter".  Thus began the Spanish adventure of the journalist and photographer Muriel Feiner, which culminates for now with the publication of a book that combines her personal memory and that of her chosen city, with good touches of flamenco and bullfighting life.

If anyone has travelled through more bullrings than Hemingway chasing Dominguín, it is Muriel, camera in hand, witnessing the best bullfights, afternoons of glory or tragedy, breaking lances for an art that is now in danger.  She was a pioneer. When she appeared in the bullrings in the sixties, she did not manage to enter any bullfighting peña... because she was a woman! 

cultura muriel feiner

With the courage of those in the trade and her unique smile, she forged ahead and founded the International Bullfighting Club of Madrid, which has given us more afternoons of glory than she herself could ever have imagined. Today she is one of the most recognised members of the bullfighting caravan that tours Spain.

The North American writer based in the capital is now on her tenth book, generally related to bullfighting; but this latest one has as its main protagonist her adopted Madrid and in particular her beloved Barrio de las Letras, where the most deeply rooted traditions survive in gastronomy, flamenco, theatres and cafés, century-old shops and mansions with literary memories.

In almost four hundred pages, Muriel tells us live stories of the most classic Madrid, with tasty anecdotes of Pedro Chicote or Casa Ciriaco, of the Hollywood artists who got lost in the madriles or of the bullfighters and fans who hung around the Hotel Victoria. Anyone who wants to feel Madrid at its deepest, to feel alive the characters who populated it and gave it flavour, will be rewarded by reading these pages, as light as a capotazo, as serious as the best faena and which end with a true exit through the big door of the memory and literature of the cities. 

cultura muriel feiner

Muriel Feiner is a journalist by trade, involved in the board of the International Press Club, and a first-rate reporter, with her camera at her side at the foot of the bullring. She has done everything in this profession and now she devotes herself to the book she has written with the curiosity and meticulousness of the eternal visitor to a city she has made her own.

This great Madrid that Muriel recovers for us, with stories and descriptions of the historic streets, is the most authentic and the one that gives its own identity to a city whose doors are always open. Muriel, bullfighter!

"My Barrio de las Letras. With a nod to bullfighting and flamenco".
Editorial Temple. Madrid. 2022