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VINE VOICEon 10 December 2006
I picked up 'Duende' initially because of the beautiful cover and because I have always been attracted to the passion of the flamenco. Although I enjoyed the book, it wasn't quite what I was expecting - it's a bit more of a coming of age story rather than a history or exploration of flamenco.

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.
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on 29 August 2004
This book was given to me as a gift by someone who knew I had a keen interest in flamenco. From the opening two sentences of the prologue, I knew I would be captivated. Jason Webster, by his very passion for his subject, has managed to achieve something I had always thought impossible. He has written a book which goes as far as it is possible to go in describing what duende is.
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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on 2 December 2006
I see the Review Guidelines forbid to me to make remarks directed at other reviewers, so I won't.

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.
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on 26 April 2017
Book arrived on time and as advertised along with 2 other books ordered.all very satisfactory.
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on 22 September 2006
I was lent this book by some friends who had both read it and loved it. It is as good as the reviews say. As a relatively recent visitor to mainland Spain it echoed my enchantment with Alicante as a wonderful place, and with my love of the Spanish way of life. Jason Webster's style of writing is very accessible and respectful of people's eccentricities. I found it hard to put this book down.
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on 5 July 2005
It's rare to come across a book that captures the excitement and loneliness of travel and living in a foreign culture as well as this. Not only is it well written, with pace and pathos, but it also depicts a contradictory Spain in social transition, and those who remain firmly on its margins. The book depicts the passionate desperation to fit in with the essence of those who, on the face of it, one only has a passing similarity to. Yes it's partly about adolescence and being young - but that's part of the point. However, despite being about real themes this book is light, readable and often funny.
0Comment| 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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).

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.

Also, 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.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 September 2004
This book was given to me as a gift by someone who knew I had a keen interest in flamenco. From the opening two sentences of the prologue, I knew I would be captivated. Jason Webster, by his very passion for his subject, has managed to achieve something I had always thought impossible. He has written a book which goes as far as it is possible to go in describing what duende is.
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.
0Comment| 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 February 2003
Not by any means a conventional travel book about Spain, it could just as easily be located under 'Rock 'n Roll'. At times quite gripping, this is an honest account told simply and effectively of Jason Webster's quest to capture the romance of Spain through Flamenco. What he discovers is something very different, much darker, more real. It raises the contradiction between the protagonists as cultural guardians and their often marginalised economic existence. More 'Down and Out in Paris and London' than Bill Bryson and Michael Palin, recommended for rebellious teenagers and independent travellers who seek to understand a little about a country and it's people.
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on 8 February 2013
Absolutely wonderful novel, I've always had a love of Spain and a passion for flamenco.

This has certainly fuelled that passion further. Can't believe I have only just do,discovered Jason Webster's writing I will definitely be reading more by him...
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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