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Duende: A Journey In Search Of Flamenco Paperback – 1 Jan 2004
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"The autobiography-as-travelogue that is also a rite of passage is a form which worked brilliantly for Laurie Lee and Bruce Chatwin - both novelists as well as seekers after the truth-behind-the-truth. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new star of the genre: Jason Webster" (Daily Mail)
"His descriptions of troubled modern day Spain are mesmerising, but the greater curiosity is in seeing just how much trouble the confused innocent can create for himself before finding out whom he might really be" (Daily Express)
"Wonderfully told, with enough detail about flamenco to educate the curious, and enough drama and characters to fill a novel, Webster may not have turned out to be a guitar maestro, but his journey is recounted like a master" (Wanderlust)
"Duende is an intensely personal portrait of a country in the throes of modernisation, whose spirit still defies definition" (Observer)
"One of the best books ever written about Spain" (Literary Review)
Part travelogue, part picaresque adventures of a young man, DUENDE takes the reader to the emotional heart of Spain.See all Product description
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Webster, having grown tired of his academic life, decides to move to Spain to immerse himself in the culture and learning about flamenco. There follows, a steamy affair with Lola (an older, and married, flamenco dancer), a move to Madrid where he falls in with a gypsy flamenco band and finally a move to Grenada and an unlikely friendship with an older woman.
The only bit I disliked was the graphic description of the bullfight, but this does only last for a couple of pages, so can easily be skipped.
The book is easy to read and enjoyable, but perhaps not the book for you if you are looking for something specifically to do with flamenco.
What I will do is tell you that I have been the Flamenco correspondent for Classical Guitar magazine for a decade, and for Guitar International for a decade before that; and everything Jason Webster says about Flamenco here seems to me absolutely accurate, with the piffling exception of a couple of misremembered names. (I think the Pedros Habichuela and Pinto should both be Pepes, but that could just be my ignorance).
I agree that if your object is to find out about Flamenco, then this is not the book to read; the classic in that regard is Donn Pohren's The Art of Flamenco.
I also agree that the present book is less about Flamenco than it is about the author, but I don't regard that as an obstacle. What is certain is that he is a born story-teller; and if his narrative ends up portraying him as rather self-centred, at least he has the grace to realise it and the honesty to admit it.
Jason Webster is not the first to have found life in the anglophone world empty, and to have sought its meaning in Flamenco. He is, however, the first (as far as I'm aware) to write such an account after the Spanish way of life changed so drastically (following the death of Franco).
If your budget will run to it, read Gerald Howson's The Flamencos of Cádiz Bay first, and then this. Both are unputdownable.
If you are already a lover of flamenco I would urge you to read this book - it will underline all that you already know and will give you an insight into the closed world of the Gypsy flamencos which is a rare, delightful, and priceless opportunity. If you are new to flamenco or are just curious about it, Jason's descriptions of its power, beauty, and ability to transport human beings like nothing else on earth will almost certainly spur you into finding out more. And if you couldn't care less about flamenco the book is still so well written that you will be, nevertheless, riveted.
From a personal point of view, the descriptions of his initial experience of duende, albeit without knowing that's what it was, and his subsequent struggle to define it and to seek to recognise it brought back memories of my own long journey of discovery. That he is able to write about it with such style and sense of humour is an unexpected and invaluable bonus. I applaud you, Jason. Vamo' ya !!!!
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Once or twice I felt the author must have taken artistic licence as the story is so detached from my everyday travails.Read more
This book gives you a real incite into the fascination of flamenco,
it's playing and...Read more