Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A labour of love, 29 Sep 2009
This review is from: Flamenco Legend: In Search of Camaron De La Isla (Hardcover)
Although Camarón de la Isla achieved godlike status in Spain in his own lifetime, little information about him is available in English: the only other nontrival account I'm aware of is by the American author Paco Sevilla, in his biography of Paco de Lucía (which, strangely, is not cited in the Further Reading section of the present work, although it's quoted (p.29), and the same author's Carmen Amaya biography IS cited.)

Marcos is a flamenco guitarist who wrote a useful and well-informed series of articles called "Flamenco Maestros" for Guitar International from 1987 to 1991, and subsequently became a broadcaster on Flamenco for the BBC — the book includes a charming photo of him accompanying his young sister (although it's strange to find it bound in with the photos of Camarón, instead of on the dust jacket).

This volume is a gold-mine of information not easily found elsewhere. Despite the occasional lapse of syntax (as on p.108, where people appear to be frying cigarettes and fish in olive oil)¹, Marcos writes well: the book's organisation is excellent and the story flows naturally and easily. In contrast to Paco Sevilla, he weaves his own quest for Camarón into the story, which works acceptably.

After the main narrative, the author looks back to the history of Flamenco to place the singer in his context. There are also extended accounts of the commodification of the singer after his death², the prejudice and discrimination still being faced by the Gypsies, and a great deal about the film biography of Camarón (including comments on its accuracy). All of this plus interviews with two of the singer's former intimates, the original Spanish of the interviews, a Bibliography, an Index, and many photographs.

With every phase of Camarón's life and work documented, this is clearly a labour of love involving many years of research.

Highly recommended.

NOTES

¹Marcos's Spanish is not without its idiosyncrasies too, some rather startling. For instance, the title of the album "Te lo dice Camarón" (roughly, "Camarón says so") is translated as "You say this about Camarón" (p.22); and later (p.34ff.) we find "señioritos" (elderly señoritos?). On p.103, instead of palmas sordas (muffled hand-claps), there are palmas sorderas (deafness hand-claps). And so forth.

²Marcos takes at face value Lucía's statement that he hardly did anything for a year after Camarón's death except watch TV; Paco Sevilla is more sceptical, pointing out that Lucía went on tour in September.
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Paul Magnussen
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