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Chicago writer who contributed to guide on surviving ‘running of the bulls’ is gored in Pamplona

Author Bill Hillmann 35 from Chicago is carried stretcher after being gored his right leg by Victoriano del Rio ranch

Author Bill Hillmann, 35, from Chicago, is carried on a stretcher after being gored on his right leg by a Victoriano del Rio ranch fighting bull during the running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival, in Pamplona, Spain. | Associated Press Photo/M.J

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Updated: August 11, 2014 1:40PM



In “How to Survive the Running of the Bulls of Pamplona,” Chicago author Bill Hillmann notes the annual event has the potential to be as “idiotic” as it is “daring.”

The 32-year-old should perhaps mention the role of luck in future editions of the recently-released e-book.

On Wednesday, Hillmann was gored in the leg by a charging bull after he took a slip, his publisher said.

The bull’s horn apparently pierced Hillmann’s leg and came out the other side, said Victor Giron, who owns the Chicago-based publishing company Curbside Splendor. And while the injury is serious, the author is recovering in a Spanish hospital and hopes to continue a European book tour for his first novel, “The Old Neighborhood,” Giron added.

“After all is said and done, he’ll look back and see the irony,” said Giron, who described Hillmann as “the kind of writer who writes what he lives.”

Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh, who resides in Chicago and mentors Hillmann, said he wasn’t exactly shocked by the news.

“He’s very much the kind of guy who likes to live on the edge,” said Welsh, the author of “Trainspotting” and “Filth.”

“I’m sure he’ll be doing the same thing again next year,” Welsh added.

For Hillmann, whose prose has been compared to Hemingway, the injury marred what Giron said was Hillmann’s ninth time running the event. Every year bulls chase runners down the city’s cobbled streets, en route to an arena where the animals are eventually slaughtered. Since 1924, 15 people have been gored to death and dozens are injured every year.

Hillmann did not respond to requests for comment.

But in “How to Survive the Running of the Bulls of Pamplona,” Hillmann instructs beginners and experienced pros alike on finer points of bullrunning.

“At its most pure this is daring, street-art, a dance with death and majesty, a chance to come into harmonious contact with one of nature’s fiercest monsters,” Hillmann wrote in his contribution to the multi-author volume. “At it’s worst, it’s a bunch of packed tourists falling over each other in an idiotic stampede.”

In the book, British writer Alexander Fiske-Harrison – who not only edited the volume, but was with Hillmann before he was gored – writes that Hillmann was drawn to the event after reading Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises.” The characters in the book travel to Pamplona to eat, drink in excess and watch the event, but they do not participate.

“It was a bloody day out there today – another man in a far worse condition than Bill was gored in the chest,” Fiske-Harrison, who escaped with bruises, wrote on his blog.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Email: bslodysko@suntimes.com

Twitter: @BrianSlodysko



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