- 9,49 €
Having pursued a conventional enough path through school and university, Jason Webster was all set to enter the world of academe as a profession. But when his aloof Florentine girlfriend of some years dumped him unceremoniously, he found himself at a crossroads. Abandoning the world of libraries and the future he had always imagined for himself, he headed off instead for Spain in search of duende, the intense emotional state - part ecstasy, part desperation - so intrinsic to flamenco.
Duende is an account of his years spent in Spain feeding his obsessive interest in flamenco: he subjects himself to the tyranny of his guitar teacher, practising for hours on end until his fingers bleed; he becomes involved in a passionate affair with Lola, a flamenco dancer (and older woman) married to the gun-toting Vicente, only to flee Alicante in fear of his life; in Madrid, he falls in with Gypsies and meets the imperious Jesús. Joining their dislocated, cocaine-fuelled world, stealing cars by night and sleeping away the days in tawdry rooms, he finds himself spiralling self-destructively downwards. It is only when he arrives in Granada bruised and battered, after two years total immersion in the flamenco lifestyle that he is able to put his obsession into context.
In the tradition of Laurie Lee's classic As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, Duende charts a young man's emotional coming of age and offers real insight into the passionate essence of flamenco.
In this enjoyable Spanish travel memoir, Webster, a Brit primed for a career in academia, attempts to infiltrate the insular, vivacious world of flamenco. Moving from Italy to Spain, he becomes obsessed with learning the intricacies of flamenco guitar and seeking out the elusive yet passionate feeling of duende, an untranslatable term referring to the feeling that is the essence of flamenco. Beginning in the sleepy Mediterranean city of Alicante, he learns the fundamentals of playing from a brash flamenco guitarist and is accepted into a small group of Andalusian music aficionados. It's not long before he falls in love with a fiery-eyed dancer, but since she's married to the director of a language school where Webster teaches English, the relationship is doomed: it would never endure within the gossip-laden city. So Webster flees to Madrid, where he slips into the marginalized and dangerous gypsy community. There, he befriends two flamenco musicians who offer him a glimpse into the world of duende. "It's about living on the edge... playing until your fingers bleed," one tells him, "taking yourself as far as you can go, and then going one step further." Although the story occasionally hits a flat note, Webster makes up for it by fluidly interlacing his foreigner's perspective with edgy and often perilous cravings to live the life of a genuine flamenco guitarist. Touring with a musical group throughout southern Spain, he learns from the gypsies that duende is an introspective emotion that materializes only when one can let go of frustrations and allow music's rawness to infuse the soul. Webster deserves praise for verbalizing an emotion that most people can only feel or imagine. (On sale Mar. 11)