Synopses & Reviews
The music started: two guitarists beating out more
Alboreás. The women took turns to dance in a frenzy, each trying to outdo the other. “Deep Song always sings in the night,” Lorca had written. It was the credo of the flamenco: a rejection of the mundane, the ordinary, the life of the everyday man, embracing, rather, an extreme world – extreme passions, extreme feelings, the extremes of life and death. And it was a way of life I wanted to believe in – its excitement, its danger, the affirmation it gave you that you were different, and alive.
Destined for a sedate and predictable life in academia, Jason Webster was derailed in his early twenties when his first love, an aloof Florentine beauty, dumped him unceremoniously. Loveless and eager for adventure – and determined to fulfill a secret dream -- he left Oxford and headed for Spain, the country that had long captivated his imagination, and set off in search of duende, the intense and mysterious emotional state – part ecstasy, part melancholy – that is the essence of Spain’s signature art form: flamenco.
Duende is Webster’s captivating memoir of the years he spent in Spain pursuing his obsession. Studying flamenco guitar until his fingers bleed, he becomes involved in a passionate yet doomed affair with Lola, a flamenco dancer (and older woman) married to the gun-toting Vicente, only to flee the coastal city of Alicante in fear for his life. He ends up in Madrid, miserable and lovelorn, but it’s here that he has his first taste of the gritty world of flamenco’s progenitors – the Gypsies whose edgy lives and fervent commitment to the art of flamenco vividly illustrate the path to duende. Before long he is deeply immersed in a flamenco underworld that combines music and dance with drugs and crime. After two years Webster moves on to Granada where, bruised and battered, he reflects on his discovery of the emotional heart of Spain.
Having pursued a conventional enough path through school, Jason Webster was set to enter the world of academia as a profession. But when his aloof girlfriend dumped him out of the blue, he found himself at a crossroads. "Duende" charts a young man's emotional coming of age and offers real insight into the passionate essence of flamenco.
Includes discography (p. -328).
About the Author
JASON WEBSTER was born near San Francisco and later moved to Europe as a child, living in England and Germany. He eventually ended up in Alexandria, Egypt, and then Spain, where he learned flamenco guitar and where he has been based on and off for the past ten years. He currently lives in Valencia, Spain, with the flamenco dancer Salud.