February 18, 2013

Barnaby Conrad, 90, author, bullfighter, club owner, bon vivant

By STEVE CHAWKINS Los Angeles Times

(Continued from page 1)

Barnaby Conrad
click image to enlarge

Author Barnaby Conrad, shown at a San Francisco restaurant in 2007, was best known for his 1952 novel "Matador," one of his many books inspired by his love of bullfighting.

2007 Associated Press file

It was about the death of Manolete: "On August 27, 1947, a multimillionaire and a bull killed each other in Linares, Spain, and plunged an entire nation into deep mourning."

Tired of the surging sleaze in San Francisco -- symbolized for Conrad by a topless shoeshine stand down the street from his club -- he and his family moved to the Santa Barbara area in the early 1970s.

By then, his machismo was so established that Los Angeles Times columnist Jack Smith wrote of meeting him: "I was pleased to see he was growing bald. It eased the envy."

In 1972, Conrad founded the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, an annual extravaganza bringing together agents, writers, publishers and, over the years, literary legends such as William Styron, Joan Didion and William F. Buckley Jr. Conrad sold the conference in 2004, but it continues today.

Conrad wrote what he knew. In the 1980s, he chronicled his battle with alcoholism in a book called "Time Is All We Have."

Over decades, he settled into a daily routine of painting and writing -- in longhand. Triple-bypass surgery in 2010 improved his health but, his son said, he started declining last year.

Bedridden but still sharp, he was reading a book when his doctor told him he had just three or four weeks to live.

"I guess I'd better read faster," he said.

 

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