The power of music, the power of obsession

  • KNOPF
  • ISTOCK
 

Flamenco, says a character in Sarah Bird's dramatic and well-written novel, The Flamenco Academy, is an "obsessive-compulsive disorder set to a great beat." The novel weaves the history of flamenco with the search for identity and the power of obsession. 

Albuquerque high-school seniors Rae and Didi make an unlikely duo. Rae, the narrator, is a math whiz, and flamboyant Didi is obsessed with becoming someone. They bond because both their fathers have cancer, and Rae is happy to live in Didi's shadow. 

But after Rae spends a life-altering night with Tomas, a tormented flamenco guitarist visiting Albuquerque, she becomes obsessed with transforming herself into his perfect woman. She and Didi enroll in flamenco classes at the University of New Mexico and are taught by the famous Dona Carlota Anaya de Montenegro, Tomas' great-aunt. Whenever class goes well, she rewards the students with tales of her Gypsy life in 1930s Spain. 

Although Rae and Didi are not gitano por cuatro costaos - "Gypsy on all four sides" - they excel at flamenco. Dona Carlota calls Rae La Metronoma for her precise footwork and Didi La Tempesta for her passionate dancing. When Tomas returns three years later to find a dancer for his guitar tour, Rae and Didi compete against each other for the position. Tomas chooses Rae, and they become lovers. However, when Didi and Tomas begin an affair, Rae is forced to analyze her life. 

Dame la verdad: Give me the truth. This is the essence of flamenco, and it turns out, the most difficult aspect of both art and life. Bird's characters are so enmeshed in personas and obsessions that they cannot face reality. It is only when Rae accepts the truth, not the fantasies she has created, that she can free herself from Didi and Tomas and build a future that simultaneously accepts and releases her from the past. 

The Flamenco Academy

Sarah Bird

416 pages, softcover:

$13.95.

Knopf, 2007.

High Country News Classifieds
  • MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR
    Job Announcement: Membership Director Job Title: Membership Director Supervisor: Executive Director Classification: Full-time exempt Location: Boise, ID Job Overview Winter Wildlands Alliance is seeking a...
  • IMPROVED LOT
    Private road, hillside, views. Well, pad, septic, 99 sq.ft. hut. Dryland permaculture orchard. Wildlife. San Diego--long growing season
  • STEWARDSHIP SPECIALIST
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks experienced person to manage its 133 conservation easements in south-central Colorado.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Executive Director Position Announcement POSITION TITLE: Executive Director ORGANIZATION: Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument REPORTING TO: Board of Directors LOCATION: Ashland, OR POSTING CLOSES: March...
  • ARIZONA CONSERVATION CORPS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Arizona Conservation Corps is seeking a Program Director in Flagstaff or Tucson
  • UNIQUE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
    Profitable off-the-grid business located 2 miles from Glacier National Park. Owner has 6 years operating experience. Seeking investor or partner for business expansion and enhancement....
  • NEW MEXICO PROPERTY - SILVER CITY
    20 acres, $80,000. Owner financing, well, driveway, fencing possible, very private, sensible covenants, broker owned. Contact - 575-534-7955 or [email protected]
  • GRANT WRITER
    "We all love this place we call Montana. We believe that land and water and air are not ours to despoil, but ours to steward...
  • COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
    ABOUT US: "This thriving citizens organization exemplifies the ideal of public involvement in public processes." - Billings Gazette At Northern Plains, we believe that true...
  • ST. LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN THE OUTDOOR PROGRAM
    To view the complete position description please visit: http://employment.stlawu.edu. St. Lawrence University is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
  • TRAIL CREW & ASSISTANT TRAIL CREW LEADERS
    SEEKING TALENTED TRAIL WORK LEADERS The Pacific Crest Trail Association, headquartered in Sacramento, California is dedicated to protecting, preserving and promoting the Pacific Crest National...
  • SEASONAL SAN JUAN RANGERS
    Seeking experienced crew members to patrol Colorado's most iconic mountain wilderness.
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • DEVELOPMENT AND ADVOCACY DIRECTOR
    Provide stewardship and protection for the Great Burn wildlands along the Montana-Idaho stateline. This position is based in Missoula, MT, where a river runs through...
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • WILDERNESS CONSERVATION CORPS - OREGON
    The Siskiyou Mountain Club is hiring interns for the 2020 Field Season. Interns utilize non-mechanized tools to complete trail restoration and maintenance while gaining job...
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.